Wild going for fifth straight as they battle Stars
Sunday, 01.09.2011 / 12:06 AM
STARS (24-13-5) at WILD (21-15-5)
TV: FS-SW (HD), KSTC (HD)
Last 10: Dallas 5-3-2; Minnesota 7-2-1
Season series: Second of four meetings this season. On Dec. 4, Dallas claimed a 4-3 win on home ice when Stephane Robidas scored a power-play goal with 1:23 left in overtime. Martin Havlat ensured Minnesota a point when he tied the game with 3:09 to play in regulation.
Big story: Jamie Langenbrunner, originally taken in the second round by the Stars in 1993, is back in town and could play his first game since being acquired from the Devils for a conditional draft pick.
"I'm going to come there and be who I am," said Langenbrunner, who has 4 goals and 14 points in 31 games this season. "I've always considered myself a leader in a certain way and I'm pretty sure I'm going to come and be the oldest guy on the team, but they're doing a lot of good things there. I'm going to just come in and support what Brenden (Morrow)'s doing from a leadership aspect and just do what I can to play the game I know how to play. If that means stepping in on the third line or fourth line or second line, whatever it is, whatever they need me to do, I have no issues. It's obviously a team that's worked hard to get themselves in a good position and I just want to come in and support that."
Stars: Aiming for a third straight win to start off 2011, Dallas couldn't finish off the visiting New York Rangers on Friday. Brian Sutherby and Mike Ribeiro gave the Stars one-goal leads that didn't hold up before Mats Zuccarello connected in the shootout to hand them a 3-2 defeat.
"It's tough when you lose full points. We wanted the extra point and we didn't get it," forward Loui Eriksson
said. "It was a pretty tight game today. We had pretty good chances. Both teams had pretty good chances today but it's always tough when you lose and don't get the extra point."
Playing some of its best hockey of the season, Minnesota has forced its way right into the middle of the crowded Western Conference playoff picture with four straight victories. A groin injury that has sidelined goalie Niklas Backstrom opened the door for veteran Jose Theodore, who stopped all 26 shots he faced Saturday in a 4-0 victory over Pittsburgh for his 30th career shutout.
"Right now, we are rolling with him," coach Todd Richards said. "He is on top of his game."
Eriksson has 1 goal and 7 assists during a six-game points streak for the Stars. Ribeiro has 3 goals and 3 assists during a five-game points streak. … Theodore has won his last four starts for the Wild, allowing just two goals over the last three games. Cal Clutterbuck has goals in three consecutive games and a team-high 13 on the season. Leading scorer Martin Havlat has 2 goals and 2 assists during a three-game points streak of his own.
Dallas defensemen Karlis Skrastins
(broken nose) and Matt Niskanen
(hand laceration) are day-to-day, while forward Toby Petersen
(lower body) is on injured reserve. … Backstrom is expected to miss at least another game and forward Antti Miettinen is questionable with a bruised leg. Forward Guillaume Latendresse (sports hernia) and defenseman Marek Zidlicky (shoulder) are on injured reserve.
Langenbrunner registered 90 goals and 235 points during his first stint with the Stars from 1995-2002 and also won a Stanley Cup with the team in 1999. … The Wild have not allowed a power-play goal in their last five games.
Dallas will be shooting for its fifth straight win over Minnesota and its seventh consecutive road win, last accomplished Nov. 15-Dec. 15, 2001, a few months before Langenbrunner was dealt to New Jersey along with current Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk.