Wild-Stars Preview

One of the Dallas Stars’ longest streaks this season without a

regulation loss couldn’t have come at more opportune time. They

might have a good chance to keep it going at the expense of another

playoff contender.

The Stars try to continue their solid recent play by claiming

their 14th consecutive home win over the Minnesota Wild on Friday


Following a 1-8-1 slump that consumed much of last month, Dallas

hasn’t walked away empty-handed from any of its last seven games

(5-0-2). That may be why coach Marc Crawford was mostly positive

despite his team’s fifth loss in seven home games, 4-3 in a

shootout with Calgary on Wednesday.

The Stars claimed their hard-earned point by rallying from a 3-0

deficit. Tomas Vincour’s first NHL goal completed the comeback in

the third period.

“It’s a positive point, given that we came back from a

three-goal deficit, it’s not often that you do that,” Crawford

said. “I’m sure we would’ve liked to have two points, but it was a

good, hard comeback by our guys, they dug deep as they’ve done all

year, and at this point, it’s about getting all the points you can

get, and tonight we managed to find a way to get one.”

Helping Crawford’s outlook was the return of leading scorer Brad

Richards, who had missed 10 games because of concussion-like

symptoms. Dallas also might have defenseman Nicklas Grossman (hip)

in the lineup for the first time in 12 games Friday.

If the Stars avoid losing in regulation again, they will match

their longest such streak of the season, a 7-0-1 run Jan. 2-20. A

victory would extend the NHL’s third-longest active home win streak

by one team over another.

The Stars (36-23-8) haven’t lost to the Wild (35-26-7) in Dallas

since falling 3-2 in overtime March 21, 2003. They’ve also won five

straight meetings in the series overall – two this season.

Stephane Robidas’ overtime goal Dec. 4 gave Dallas a 4-3 home

win over the Wild, and Andrew Raycroft stopped 26 shots in a 4-0

victory in Minnesota on Jan. 9.

The Wild also lost 4-0 on Thursday in Nashville as their 2-0-1

stretch came to an end.

Minnesota is tied for 10th in the West with Anaheim, two points

behind eighth-place Los Angeles. Playing without Mikko Koivu

(broken finger) and Cal Clutterbuck (upper-body injury) hasn’t

helped, and coach Todd Richards doesn’t expect the two forwards to

return soon.

“We have to figure out a way,” he said.

While it dropped the opener of a four-game trip, Richards’ club

still has a chance to record a franchise-record 19th win away from

home Friday.

The Wild might need a better performance from Niklas Backstrom

to reach that milestone. He’s 2-5-2 with a 3.01 goals-against

average in his last nine games against the Stars, who he hasn’t

faced this season.

Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen has won back-to-back games over Minnesota

but has also allowed at least three goals in all four of his career

matchups for a 3.65 GAA. Raycroft is 4-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA in five

starts against the Wild.