Mama said there'd be days like this. There'd be days like this... well she told us about them.
The Dallas Stars pried a gutsy victory away from the Winnipeg Jets at home earlier this week but fell hard a 4-1 defeat on the road Thursday night. The absence of Spezza, Janmark, Hemsky, Eakin, Hudler and Sharp continues to sting- And the prolific offense for which this team is supposed to be known has hit a wall, scoring just four times in the last nine periods of hockey.
The Jets had little issue scoring Thursday, potting one 15 seconds in en-route to a 4-1 victory over a Stars team that mustered a single Tyler Seguin tally.
"Special teams, they had the edge, and that was the difference in the game," Lindy Ruff told media afterward. "Five-on-five we created some good opportunities, but we made a couple mistakes and one big mistake that cost us."
The edge in special teams, yes, but the Jets dominated overall possession to the tune of 38-24 through the substantive part of the game- That being the part that actually mattered up until the third Jets goal, when score-effects took over. Dallas would eventually take the overall numbers by a tally of 71-55, but that was purely on the strength of 17 largely meaningless shot attempts in the game's final nine minutes.
So they'll try to do better tonight- And they hope they can do it with another seasoned body or two.
Lindy told reporters that he anticipates Jiri Hudler to be a player for him tonight after a lengthy bout of illness and a bit of a road back taken at practice. That would give the Stars a little bit of a different look and a multi-tool they need as the lines continue to be pulsed in that blender.
In the "cross your fingers" bucket there is outside chance that Jason Spezza and whatever malady he carries might be ready to make an attempt tonight, though Ruff notes they would see how giggles reacted to an admittedly light Friday practice.
Whatever goaltender and forward lineup the Stars take in to Minnesota, they face a Wild team experiencing the polar opposite of Dallas right now.
Minnesota boasts an impressive 5-2-1 record and are just rolling right now. They were made to go on an early-season sojourn to the northeast on a four-game swing, and saved their best for last in a 2-1-1 trip.
They've out-scored their opposition 9-0 in their last 120 minutes of hockey, shutting out the Bruins and Sabres on the strength of three very solid indicators of future success- They did not allow a power play goal against in those games, they did not need to score on the power play much to get the nine (8-of-9 scored at even strength), and their goaltending was outstanding.
Quite a contrast to Dallas.
The good news continues for Minnesota as they'll get Jared Spurgeon back on their blue line for this one after a four-game absence.
Devan Dubnyk has stopped 65 straight in back-to-back shutouts and should be in net tonight. Their lineup will look something like this-
Scandella-Prosser/Spurgeon (somewhere in here)
From Stars PR:
WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE
The Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild meet on Saturday night at Xcel Energy Center for the first of five matchups this season. The Stars went 4-1-0 against the Wild during the 2015-16 campaign, including a 3-0-0 record on the road at Xcel Energy Center. Saturday's game marks the first meeting between the two clubs since their matchup in the First Round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Stars won the series, 4-2, and recorded the series-clinching victory at Xcel Energy Center in Game 6 on April 24, 2016. In the most recent regular season meeting in St. Paul on Feb. 9, 2016, the Stars defeated the Wild, 4-3, in overtime to extend their road winning streak against Minnesota to three games. Defenseman John Klingberg potted the game-winning goal (1-0=1) and three Stars skaters logged multi-point games including captain Jamie Benn (0-2=2), forward Tyler Seguin (0-2=2) and forward Patrick Eaves (1-1=2).
TYLER THE CREATOR
Stars forward Tyler Seguin registered a power play goal (1-0=1) on Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets and now has a two-game goal streak (2-0=2) and points in three of his last four games (2-2=4). Seguin has four points (3-1=4) in three contests away from American Airlines Center this season, sharing sixth in the NHL with three goals on the road. Last season, he finished tied for seventh overall in the League with 37 points (19-18=37) on the road and shared fifth in road goals (19). The native of Brampton, Ont., has points in six of his last seven games against Minnesota (4-7=11), including a three-game point streak (2-4=6) at Xcel Energy Center. In 15 career games against the Wild, Seguin has recorded 17 points (5-12=17).
FEAR THE BEARD
Defenseman Jordie Benn recorded an assist (0-1=1) against the Jets on Thursday night and has registered points in three of his last five games (0-3=3). Benn has points in two of his last three games against the Wild (1-1=2), recording two points (1-1=2) in four games against them last season. Three of his nine career NHL goals have come against Minnesota, with two of the three goals occurring on the road at Xcel Energy Center (last: Dec. 21, 2015). Over his NHL career, he has skated in 13 games against the Wild and has recorded five points (3-2=5), which is tied for his second-highest point total against any NHL opponent (tied: 5 points vs. Detroit, most: 6 points vs. St. Louis). The native of Victoria, B.C., finished the 2015-16 season with 12 points (3-9=12) in 64 regular-season games, ranking second among Stars defensemen and eighth among all skaters with a career-high two game-winning goals.