Wild-Stars Preview

The Minnesota Wild broke out of an offensive funk their last time out, but it came against the worst team in hockey.

The Dallas Stars are fresh off an impressive shutout win and could provide a more difficult test Saturday if they’re able to correct their home-ice struggles.

Prior to Thursday’s 6-3 home win over Buffalo, Minnesota (8-7-0) had been outscored 14-3 on a four-game losing streak.

"We needed that just to get things turned around," coach Mike Yeo said. "We did a lot of good things to generate some offense. Now we have to build off that."

Nino Niederreiter led the way with three goals, Kyle Brodziak and Ryan Carter each added a goal and an assist, and Jared Spurgeon scored in his return from a shoulder injury.

Fellow defensemen Marco Scandella and Jonas Brodin missed the game due to illness, which could be an extended absence if it turns out to be the mumps as the club fears.

The power play showed signs of life with a 2-for-4 night after going 2 for 44 through 14 games.

With points leader Zach Parise set to miss a fifth straight game with a concussion, Minnesota could use a consistent boost from others. He’s returned to practice and could return Sunday against Winnipeg.

Carter has scored in consecutive games after failing to do so in his first 12, but fellow newcomer Thomas Vanek has been a non-factor in the last five games with one assist. The nine-time 20-goal scorer remains at one with his new club, though it came against the Stars (6-6-4), and he has 10 points in nine career games against them.

Minnesota opened the season series with a 4-1 home win Nov. 1, but trips to Dallas have slowly piled into an embarrassment with a 1-14-5 record since the start of 2003-04.

The Wild have gone 2-6-0 on the road with 15 goals scored, but the Stars haven’t been any better at home with a 1-3-4 mark and a five-game losing streak. They haven’t endured a longer one in Dallas since dropping six in a row Feb. 21-March 8, 2009.

They were winless in seven straight overall before winning in Arizona and Los Angeles this week, a trip capped by Thursday’s 2-0 victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Kings.

Tyler Seguin, who has five goals and two assists in the last four games, assisted on Jason Spezza’s goal and Ryan Garbutt also scored two nights after his late short-handed tally gave Dallas a 4-3 win over the Coyotes.

"When you are in a long losing streak, I don’t think we were playing as bad as we thought we were. When you are winning, you aren’t playing as good as you think you are," Spezza told the team’s official website. "That first one is tough to get when you are in a long one like we were in. Getting that win in Phoenix, the way we did with the big goal, gave us some confidence."

Kari Lehtonen earned his first shutout of the season after allowing at least three goals in four straight starts, including four in the loss at Minnesota.

"To me he looks like his old self," coach Lindy Ruff said. "He’s more aggressive. He’s on his toes. Before he looked a little bit on the nervous side."

Lehtonen has lost six of seven home starts with a 3.22 goals-against average.

Counterpart Darcy Kuemper was removed from the Buffalo game after allowing two goals on as many shots. He’s 0-3-0 with a 3.56 GAA in his last four starts.

Niklas Backstrom earned the win against the Sabres but is 1-5-3 with a 3.75 GAA in Dallas.

Stars forward Patrick Eaves’ status is in question after leaving Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.