Preview: Wild vs. Stars

Eric Staal and the Minnesota Wild host the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Devan Dubnyk had a similar answer to the first two questions he answered following the Minnesota Wild’s 1-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. When the third came, Minnesota’s goaltender didn’t know what else to say.

The Wild had pressured Anaheim goaltender John Gibson enough to score and overcome the one goal Dubnyk let in just 4:38 into the game. Minnesota could not find the back of the net in a game they largely controlled and one in which outshot the Ducks 37-23.

“It’s the way it goes,” Dubnyk said. “Those happen, those games happen every once in a while. Like I said, we’re not going to look back on that game and change anything we did. We play like that, we’re going to win 90 percent of the time. We just got to keep doing that.”

The Wild know how to bounce back, not having suffered back-to-back losses since the start of December and just once in two straight regulation games all season. Minnesota hosts the Dallas Stars on Thursday to continue their franchise-record, eight-game homestand.

Dallas will also be looking to recover from a loss, having dropped a 5-2 decision against the Jets in Winnipeg on Tuesday. Patrik Laine had a hat trick in the game for the Jets. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin scored for the Stars, who lost for the sixth time in seven games and the fifth straight on the road.

“It’s been extremely frustrating,” Dallas forward Jason Spezza, who returned after missing five games with an upper-body injury, told the team’s website. “I thought we did some things today that deserved us a better result. We had lots of looks at the end. It’s obviously not good enough. We know where it puts us in the standings, and we know we have to do a better job.”

The Stars (22-26-10) have slipped to 12th in the Western Conference, six points out of a playoff spot and 26 points behind the West-leading Wild.

Minnesota has won three of the four meetings between the two teams this season, and earned a point in each. Dallas earned points in a 3-2 overtime win in November and a shootout loss in January.

Few teams have had success against Minnesota since the start of December, though. The Wild are 26-5-3 since losing in overtime to the Calgary Flames on Dec. 2. They have outscored opponents 125-83 in the 34 games since, making Tuesday’s loss both frustrating and, apparently, easy to brush off.

“We’ve been able to score quite few goals the last however many, and that’s been one of our strong points,” Minnesota forward Charlie Coyle said. “(Tuesday was) totally different. It’s not like we didn’t have the chances, didn’t have the shots. It was there. That’s hockey for you. Sometimes that happens and you just got to keep at it, that’s all. We’ll get the next one.”

The occasion was rare for the Wild, who lost for the first time in six outings. Dubnyk made 22 saves as Minnesota was shutout for the third time this season and the first since Nov. 15.

“I don’t want to let it go,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said. “At the same time, I don’t want to read the riot act because we lost a game. Tomorrow, let’s strap our boots back on and see what we do.”

Minnesota left Tuesday’s game unworried about their performance in a loss and fully prepared to move on. Dallas coach Lindy Ruff offered a similar take after his team’s loss at Winnipeg and, like Dubnyk, seemed weary of having to say the same things over again.

“I have to stand here and tell the same story too many times,” Ruff told the team’s website. “I thought we did a heck of a job, we didn’t spend a lot of time in our end, and we made a few mistakes here and there. But I thought our guys played a hell of a game. I can’t criticize them for that game.”