The Dallas Stars made the trip to Minnesota broken, beaten and scarred. The Minnesota Wild are fighting for a playoff spot. It was a mismatch from the start and in the end the Wild were healthier, hungrier and they had Niklas Backstrom.
The Stars showed some grit and energy, at times putting consistent pressure on the Wild and had several scoring chances in the first two periods. Backstrom was solid and magnificent at the same time, and when he couldn't make the stop the Stars were missing the net.
A breakdown in the penalty kill doomed the Stars in the second period, with poor defensive coverage in front led to two power play goals for the Wild. With a 3-0 lead, Minnesota is near impossible to come back on. The Stars made it briefly interesting in the third when Fabian Brunnstrom tapped in a slick pass from Mike Ribeiro, but were never able to pull any closer than two goals down.
With Trevor Daley officially done for the season, rookie defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy made his NHL debut and while he was far from flawless he showed some of the offensive prowess that has made him a top prospect. He is fearless with the puck and loves to attack the offensive zone, something the Stars have been lacking on the blue-line with Sergei Zubov out.
Matt Climie made his second and most likely last start this season for the Dallas Stars and was much more confident and solid than in his NHL debut. While he still allows some juicy rebounds to pop back into the slot, his athleticism and skill really stood out tonight. He was especially solid in the third period, making several big stops to keep the Stars in the game.
Good luck to Minnesota, who with the win moved within one point of Nashville in 8th place (who lost tonight to Chicago).