Even though the Dallas Stars sit atop the Western Conference, wins have been hard to come by of late.
It’s a similar grind for victories with the Minnesota Wild, who are trying to move into playoff position in the West.
Each team looks to avoid a third consecutive defeat when they meet Friday night in Saint Paul, Minn.
With 71 points, Dallas is first in a Western Conference race that features nine teams with at least 61. The Wild currently round out that group, entering play Thursday 10 points behind the Stars, in ninth place and just outside of playoff position.
Dallas has earned at least one point in eight of the last nine games. However, the Stars went just 3-1-4 on a lengthy homestand, capped by a 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay on Saturday and Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime setback to Boston.
“Everyone wants more, and you want to be greedy and get two (points) in these games,” said Stars coach Pete DeBoer, whose team will play its first game on the road since Jan. 19.
“We left some points on the table, but when we’re playing well, I think we’re pretty good. … There’s always things to work on.”
One thing to work on: a power play that’s failed on all 14 chances over the past four games and is 1-for-20 in the last six. Dallas is 2-for-8 with the man-advantage while going 2-0-1 against Minnesota this season.
Dating to last season, the Stars have a 4-0-2 overall stretch going against the Wild. Roope Hintz and Jason Robertson (eight points shy of his career-best 79 points) have combined for 11 goals and 13 assists during that run versus Minnesota, which has totaled nine non-shootout goals while going 1-4-1 in February.
The Wild recorded 43 shots on goal Wednesday at home against Colorado, but they had little to show for it during a frustrating 3-2 defeat.
“Gotta dig deep,” said Minnesota veteran Mats Zuccarello, who has a goal with eight assists in his last nine contests. “Points are hard to come by for us at this moment, but there are no excuses. We just have to shake (Wednesday’s loss) off and (have a) big game next game.”
Though Minnesota’s offensive struggles have lingered, superstar Kirill Kaprizov has goals in back-to-back games and four in his last six contests. He’s posted six goals with six assists in seven career games versus Dallas.
However, teammate Marc-Andre Fleury has a 4.21 goals-against average while losing all three of his February starts. He’s yielded eight goals while splitting his two starts against the Stars this season. Backup Filip Gustavsson has stopped 60 of 63 shots in his last two starts.
Meanwhile, Dallas’ Jake Oettinger (2.23 goals-against average) has allowed three goals on four occasions in his last six starts. After allowing four goals in just under 40 minutes of Dallas’ 6-5 home shootout loss to Minnesota on Dec. 4, Oettinger has stopped 61 of 63 shots in winning his next two starts against the Wild.
Meanwhile, Dallas backup Scott Wedgewood saved all but two of his 64 shots faced in his last two starts overall.
–Field Level Media