NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, February 4th (All times Eastern)
Minnesota Wild (25-19-7) at Dallas Stars (26-22-2), 8 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Wild are coming off one road victory over a team that is chasing them in the Western Conference standings. Minnesota hopes for similar results tonight, but to do that it will have to beat the Stars in Dallas for the first time in almost nine years.
The Wild had lost 11 straight on the road before winning their previous two trips to enemy ice, both at Colorado. They knocked off the Avs in their final game before the All-Star break, but were beaten at home by Nashville on Tuesday before picking up a 1-0 triumph in Denver on Thursday.
Niklas Backstrom came up with 37 saves, including 17 in the third period, for his third shutout of the season and 25th of his career. Greg Zanon netted Minnesota's only goal, his first in 23 games, to give the Wild their third victory in four games following a 2-11-4 slump.
"Those guys did a great job in front of me," said Backstrom. "They made smart plays in our zone and got the puck out a lot. That was the key for us tonight."
The Wild are 10 points behind the Canucks in the Northwest Division and their 57 points have them eighth overall in the West, three up on the Avalanche, Flames and tonight's opponent, the Stars.
Minnesota is 12-12-4 on the road this season and 0-10-4 in its past 14 trips to Dallas since its last win there on March 21, 2003. That includes a 4-0 setback in their last trip to Dallas on March 11 of last season.
The Wild have won two straight over the Stars overall following defeats in six straight and 11 of the previous 13 in the series.
The Stars will try to close the gap for the conference's eighth spot, but are coming off a disappointing 5-2 setback to the Sharks. Dallas had notched a four-goal victory in Anaheim the previous night, but fell to 0-8-1 in the back end of games on consecutive nights.
Steve Ott had a goal and an assist, Jamie Benn tallied and backup Richard Bachman ended with 32 saves in defeat, Dallas' sixth in eight games.
"I think there was a lot of frustrating things tonight," said Ott. "Obviously, we didn't get the result we wanted was the number one most frustrating thing. Collectively, a lot of little breakdowns."
Dallas will be without forward Brenden Morrow this evening after placing him on injured reserve Friday due to a nagging upper-body injury. The 33-year-old captain has eight goals and 14 assists in 43 games this season.
The Wild are likely to debut new center Erik Christensen after acquiring the veteran from the New York Rangers on Friday along with a conditional seventh- round pick in 2012 for Casey Wellman.
The 28-year-old Christensen logged just a goal and four assists in 20 games with the Rangers this year.
Prior to tonight's game, Dallas will honor former goaltender Ed Belfour for his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame back in November. Belfour went in along with Joe Nieuwendyk, who currently serves as the Stars' general manager. Belfour only spent five of his 18 NHL seasons with Dallas, but helped backstop the club to a Stanley Cup title in 1999.
02/04 10:33:32 ET