Stars Homestand Toughens Starting with Matchup against Wild

After a feel good overtime win against Anaheim, featuring Jamie Benn and John Klingberg, the playoff push starts in earnest.

Monday nights 3-2 Dallas Stars overtime victory over the Anaheim Ducks checked off a bunch of boxes. First off, the Stars showed that they could pick up a full two points beyond sixty minutes. It might take a penalty kill and some timely saves, but Dallas did demonstrate that if the team can make it to the shootout, that they can be dominant. Jason Robertson, Joe Pavelski and Tyler Seguin is a formidable first three, and with Jake Oettinger in net, the team should win more than they lose - if they can make it that far.

It was fun to see the three forward lineups, and who would have thought that the best scoring opportunity would be off the stick of Luke Glendening on a short-handed breakaway.

Next up are the Minnesota Wild. The Stars have dominated the third period in both previous games, storming back with four to tie the game at home in early December (before, of course, losing in overtime). On the road in Minnesota, Dallas put up three in the third to pull away to a 4-1 victory. The comeback in early December is perhaps notable as the last time Mason Marchment put a puck past a goaltender in a game that mattered.

In any event, the Wild have worked their way up to third in the Central Division. They did lose to the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night and the game against Dallas is the first of a back to back, with the second half against the Vegas Golden Knights back at home. If the Stars are going to maintain their top spot in the West, this is the kind of game that the team needs to focus on and win.

One final note for the pregame:

Dallas Stars Lineup

Jason Robertson (21) – Roope Hintz (24) – Joe Pavelski (16)
Jamie Benn (14) – Wyatt Johnston (53) – Ty Dellandrea (10)
Mason Marchment (27) – Radek Faksa (12) – Tyler Seguin (91)
Marian Studenic (43) - Luke Glendening (11) – Denis Gurianov (34)

Miro Heiskanen (4) – Colin Miller (6)
Esa Lindell (23) – Jani Hakanpää (2)
Ryan Suter (20) – Nils Lundkvist (5)

Jake Oettinger (29)
Scott Wedgewood (41)

Radek Faksa centering Marchment and Seguin was, perhaps surprisingly, pretty good against Anaheim. Gurianov hit the scoresheet and was visible in a good way. Suter and Lundkvist put up the best numbers of all defensive pairings, per NaturalStatTrick. Hmmmm.

Maybe not what was expected, but combine all that with the bonus point in a shootout, and you’ll take it.

Kiviranta has taken some big hits lately, and the cumulative effect is being called an undisclosed injury (presumably lower body) that has move him to day to day status. Studenic gets the call, and his brand of tornadic chaos plus speed should add an interesting dynamic to wing play from the Stars fourth line.

Studenic was tasked with improving his finishing touch during his time with the Texas Stars, and his 14 goals in Cedar Park included some highlight goals. He earned this call up, and he has the potential to stick (and if Gurianov remains inconsistent, there could be a larger role available for the Slovakian winger).

Minnesota Wild Lineup

Kirill Kaprizov (97) - Ryan Hartman (38) - Mats Zuccarello (36)
Jordan Greenway (18) - Joel Eriksson Ek (14) - Marcus Foligno (17)
Frederick Gaudreau (89) - Sam Steel (13) - Matthew Boldy (12)
Brandon Duhaime (21) - Connor Dewar (26) - Ryan Reaves (75)

Jacob Middleton (5) - Jared Spurgeon (46)
Alex Goligoski (33) - Matt Dumba (24)
Jon Merrill (4) - Calen Addison (2)

Marc-Andre Fleury (29)
Filip Gustavsson (32)

Fleury has been getting the bulk of the starts, but Gustavsson’s numbers are appreciably better. Both have had the Stars number in the past. Gustavsson is expected to be in net on Wednesday night.

Jonas Brodin is out with an upper body injury, which gets Goligoski out of Dean Evason’s doghouse for the time being.

Bill Guerin probably doesn’t get enough credit for icing a playoff contender with just short of $13 million in dead cap space buried between Suter and Zach Parise.

Keys to the Game

Goalies. With two Star killer options in net, the Wild are always going to create problems. John Gibson did his best to goalie Dallas on Monday night. The team has to be ready to punch through - and hopefully before the third period.

Robertson/Kaprizov. Their names are going to be linked as divisional opponents and as rookie phenoms for their entire careers. Both score in amazing, but different ways. Win the star battle, win the game.

Legs. There were so many distractions on Monday night, between Jamie Benn’s 1000th game, the return of John Klingberg and the end of a nine game layoff. This game is the beginning of the late season push for the playoffs and seeding within the division. Push through with energy and keep the legs moving.