Concluding a five-game homestand that has seen the club win three in a row to break loose from the home-ice woes that plagued them through the first six weeks of the season, the Dallas Stars (9-9-4) will play host to the Minnesota Wild (12-9-0) on Friday night. Game time at the American Airlines Center is 7:30 p.m. CST. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest Plus.
This is the third of five meetings between the Central Division clubs this season. Earlier this month, the Stars lost both games against Minnesota in regulation. On Nov. 1 in St. Paul, the Wild cruised to a 4-1 win. On Nov. 15 in Dallas, it was a 2-1 final.
The Stars enter this game coming off a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. It wasn’t always pretty but Dallas never trailed in a game that saw Kari Lehtonen make 35 saves to earn the win.
John Klingberg scored his third NHL goal as a fluky bouncing shot from the neutral zone eluded countryman Viktor Fasth. After yielding a shorthanded goal in the final minute of the first period to skate to the locker room tied 1-1 at the first intermission, NHL-leading goal scorer Tyler Seguin broke loose for a pair of second-period tallies to forge a 3-1 lead. The Stars nursed the lead through the remainder of the game. Taylor Hall drew the Oilers back within a goal with 14:01 remaining in regulation but Lehtonen stopped nine of 10 shots fired on his net in the final period to nail down the win.
Several key Stars players missed Wednesday’s practice, including team captain Jamie Benn, Lehtonen and defenseman Alex Goligoski (flu). All three returned to yesterday’s Thanksgiving Day practice, per Stars Inside Edge, and are available for tonight’s game.
After tonight, the Stars turn around and play a road game in Denver tomorrow night against the Colorado Avalanche. Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff told the Dallas media yesterday that struggling and seldom-used backup goaltender Anders Lindbäck would start one of the two games this weekend. Lindbäck last appeared in relief of Lehtonen on Nov. 18 in Carolina, yielding a goal nine seconds into the third period before settling in. He last started on Nov. 8 in an ugly 5-3 home loss to San Jose.
Checking line forward Ryan Garbutt was suspended two games by the NHL for a knee-to-knee hit on Taylor Hall in Tuesday’s game. He will serve the first game tonight. Colton Sceviour will return to the Dallas lineup with Garbutt unavailable.
The Wild had been playing very good hockey — reeling off a 5-1-0 stretch over six games — heading into Wednesday’s clash with the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in St. Paul. The results on Wednesday, however, were not what Minnesota coach Mike Yeo wanted to see from his club.
Very little went right for the Wild in a 4-0 loss against the Kings. Minnesota ran right into the business end of a four-goal buzzsaw in the first period. Los Angeles, which had just 12 shots over the final 40 minutes, but never felt in any jeopardy. The Wild made no dent in the huge deficit as backup LA goalie Martin Jones posted a 28-save shutout. For Minnesota, losing goaltender Darcy Kuemper (six saves on 10 shots) gave way to veteran Niklas Bäckström over the final 40 minutes of the game.
On Dallas injury front, second-year right winger Valeri Nichushkin (hip surgery) is out until the stretch drive, while rookie defenseman Patrik Nemeth (severe forearm laceration from a skate cut) is out for the season. For Minnesota, defenseman Jonas Brodin (illness) is questionable for tonight’s game, while Matt Cooke (hip) is out.
PROJECTED LINEUPS (subject to change)
14 Jamie Benn – 91 Tyler Seguin – 18 Patrick Eaves
72 Erik Cole – 90 Jason Spezza – 83 Ales Hemsky
21 Antoine Roussel – 20 Cody Eakin – 22 Colton Sceviour
10 Shawn Horcoff – 38 Vernon Fiddler – 27 Travis Moen
33 Alex Goligoski – 3 John Klingberg
6 Trevor Daley – 4 Jason Demers
2 Jyrki Jokipakka – 5 Jamie Oleksiak
32 Kari Lehtonen / 29 Anders Lindbäck
11 Zach Parise – 64 Mikael Granlund – 29 Jason Pominville
16 Jason Zucker – 9 Mikko Koivu – 26 Thomas Vanek
22 Nino Niederreiter – 3 Charlie Coyle – 56 Erik Haula
18 Ryan Carter – 21 Kyle Brodziak – 14 Justin Fontaine
20 Ryan Suter – 46 Jared Spurgeon
6 Marco Scandella – 39 Nate Prosser
2 Keith Ballard – 55 Matt Dumba
35 Darcy Kuemper
[32 Niklas Bäckström]