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Gameday preview: Minnesota Wild @ Dallas Stars (7:00p CST)

The Dallas Stars rebounded from lethargic and disappointing games against the St. Louis Blues and Montreal Canadiens with a full 60 minute effort in Thursday's 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Even more importantly, the win boosted the Stars back into the thick of the playoff race and into 8th spot in the West.

With several teams around them in the standing playing tonight, the Stars must now take on a team just one point behind them in the standings, the Minnesota Wild.

With several key players out of the lineup due to injuries, the Stars have been forced to to try and find scoring from several players who weren't part of the team just a few months ago. Both Steve Begin and Brendan Morrison, both acquired just a few weeks ago, were contributors in the win Thursday for the Stars and will be key players for the team moving forward to the playoffs.

Unfortunately the Stars will be without forward Jere Lehtinen, who is out with an upper-body injury. Expect the Stars to use the same group of players and line combinations from the game against the Hurricanes, which could be a good thing for a team looking to build consistency in the final weeks of the season.

The Minnesota Wild, like the Dallas Stars, have floundered lately while fighting for playoff positioning. 3-4-3 over the last ten game, the Wild have lost two in a row after falling 2-1 to Colorado in the shootout two nights ago. The team has come under public criticism by both the coach and the general manager, who have questioned the teams desire to win and ability to play a full game.

This is an important game for both teams and should have a great playoff-like atmosphere. With the Wild and Stars separated by just a point in the Western Conference the game has serious standing implications with so little time left in the season.

Key Injuries:

Dallas: RW Mark Parrish (head); RW Jere Lehtinen (upper body) and LW Fabian Brunnstrom (upper body) are questionable. C Toby Petersen (foot), C Brad Richards (wrist), LW Brenden Morrow (knee) and D Sergei Zubov (hip) are out.

Minnesota: LW Derek Boogaard (illness) is questionable. D Brent Burns (concussion-like symptoms) and RW Marian Gaborik (hip) are out.

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