Gameday Preview: Minnesota Wild @ Dallas Stars (7:00pm CST)


Next Game

Minnesota Wild
@ Dallas Stars

Tuesday, Feb 2, 2010, 7:00 PM CST
American Airlines Center

TV: Versus (not on Directv)

Radio: 1310 The Ticket (listen online @ stars.nhl.com)

Complete Coverage >


Marty Turco will start his first game in nine days tonight as the Minnesota Wild come calling once again. This will be the first time in nearly a month (January 8th against the Islanders) that Turco has played a game in front of the American Airlines Center crowd. After earning the first 2 wins in this 4 game home stand, Alex Auld was decidedly mediocre on Sunday against the Phoenix Coyotes, and allowed a momentum killing bad goal in the third period. Thus, Marty Turco gets the start tonight and will get the chance to prove he should start the next game in Columbus (where he played exceptionally well a few weeks ago).

As for the opponent tonight? They were just here and the story remains almost the same. The Wild are very close to the Stars (1 point behind), both teams struggle on the road, and both teams have very similar records in the last 10 (Dallas 5-5, Minnesota 5-4-1). On January 18th the Stars jumped out to a very rare 4 goal lead and looked to be in good shape against a spiritless Wild team. The third period turned into a white-knuckle affair and the Stars just barely were able to squeak out a 4-3 regulation win. I don't know how a game in which you had a 4 goal lead can leave a sour taste in your mouth, but that one did.

Former Star Antti Miettinen led the way for Minnesota offensively that night. Someone might want to keep an eye on that guy. Given the Stars abysmal road performance, a 2-2 home stand would be an unpalatable result. They must win this game if they're to stay anywhere near the playoff race. They play four of their next five on the road before the Olympics. You know what that means.

Follow the jump for more on both teams, injuries, and is Minnesota starting their backup tonight?

The Stars:

As the injury carousel turns, Warren Peters ping pongs his way back into the lineup for the third (fourth?) time this year only a few days after bring sent back down to Austin. We like his game and his work ethic, but Brian Sutherby is not the player we would have sacrificed for him if given the chance.

Speaking of Fabian Brunnstrom, he scored a goal against Phoenix on Sunday night in what was maybe his best period of the season. Hopefully he can carry some of that confidence and drive over to the next game.

With Sutherby out, and no practice on Monday, it's difficult to say what the lines might be. These were the lines to start the game on Sunday:

Neal-Richards-Eriksson
Morrow-Benn-Ott
Barch-Modano-Brunnstrom
Sutherby-Petersen-Lehtinen

Crawford used Modano-Petersen-Brunnstrom some in the Colorado game and had Peters out there with a variety of combinations (notably with Ott and Morrow instead of Benn to close the game out). I'd expect him to be used sparingly with varying combinations as Modano is shuffled between those bottom two lines.

How are you liking the Jamie Benn at Center experiment? As long as he doesn't throw any more pucks in Brenden Morrow's face, I'd like to continue it for at least as long as Ribeiro is out.

The Wild:

Wild goaltender Nick Backstrom is out tonight with an illness, so Josh Harding will get the start in his place. Says Mike Heika:

Niklas Backstrom is battling flu and is not expected to play. Josh Harding will get the start in net, and many say Harding is someone the Stars should try to acquire in their quest to find a young goalie. He's 25, he's 5-8-0 this season with a 2.81 GAA and .905 save percentage. he's an RFA in the summer. Watch him and see what you think.

With Marty Turco on the other end, it could be a really intriguing matchup.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune has some good notes on the game tonight:

The Wild, one point behind Dallas in the standings, is 1-1 on the three-game trip. Coming off a 5-2 loss at San Jose, the Wild is 0-8-3 in 11 games at Dallas since March 21, 2003 -- the longest winless streak in one building in team history. The Stars have outscored the Wild 43-22 in those 11 games, including a 4-3 victory Jan. 18.

Players to watch: G Josh Harding has stopped 159 of 168 shots for a .946 save percentage over his past seven contests (five starts). D Marek Zidlicky has 15 points in the past 19 games and is one assist from 200 in his career. RW Antti Miettinen, a former Stars player, had two goals and one assist against Dallas on Jan. 18. C Mike Modano leads the Stars with 25 points in 32 games vs. the Wild.

The Wild allowed 4 power play goals by San Jose in their last outing. The Stars would do well to follow that blue print tonight.

Injuries:

Dallas: Ribeiro (throat), Wandell (knee) and Sutherby (upper body) are out.

Minnesota: Backstrom (flu), Pierre Marc Bouchard (head), Boogard (hamstring) and Kobasew (knee) are out. Owen Nolan is questionable with a leg thing.

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