Stars-Wild Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 12, 2012
Already on a roll, the Dallas Stars got a boost with the return of veteran winger Brenden Morrow. After helping his team stay red-hot, Morrow will attempt to lead the Pacific Division leaders to a season-high sixth straight win as they visit the struggling and injury-plagued Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night. Morrow, sidelined for 18 games due to neck and shoulder stiffness, scored a goal in his return Saturday against Anaheim. Kari Lehtonen also stopped 21 shots in the 2-0 victory and helped Dallas improve to 9-0-1 over its last 10. "It's a boost for us and to have Brenden back to give us that grit, and it's just a better team with him," center Mike Ribeiro told the team's website. "We just have to keep doing the same things and work hard, and I'm sure he's going to fit well." With help from his teammates, Lehtonen survived four power plays - three caused by Morrow penalties. "I was a little bit nervous," said Morrow, who is tied for ninth on the team's all-time points list. "I didn't want to screw things up for the team. Kari made sure I didn't do that the couple of times I was sitting in the penalty box." While Morrow tries to play more disciplined, the Stars (38-26-5) will seek to pad their division lead against a team it's beaten twice since Feb. 3. Those two defeats are part of a 4-11-3 stretch for the Wild (29-30-10), who are also 2-7-1 in their last 10 at home. With their top two goaltenders dealing with injuries, the Wild dropped their third straight game at the Xcel Energy Center and sixth in seven overall contests Sunday, 4-3 to Calgary. Minnesota scored all of its goals in the third period of that game with Erik Christensen netting two, but the Wild also gave up three in that frame. "Things just fell apart quickly, and we've got to figure out a way to stop that," goaltender Matt Hackett said. Hackett started that game because Niklas Backstrom is still out with a strained groin and Josh Harding was relegated to a backup role because of an undisclosed lower-body injury. Captain Mikko Koivu (shoulder), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion) and Cal Clutterbuck (illness) were among the other players who sat out that game. Coach Mike Yeo, however, refused to use that as an excuse. "We owe our fans a good game here. There's been too many games in a row where we've come out flat in our own building," he said. "It would be nice if we had five or six guys that would like to win. ... We're going to be playing guys that want to play hard." Dallas has won 20 of 26 against Minnesota but has lost its past two visits to St. Paul, including a 5-2 defeat Jan. 21. Dany Heatley had a goal and two assists for the Wild in that win, and Harding made 23 saves in his second career start against Dallas. He gave up a career-worst eight goals in the other one on Dec. 26, 2007. Lehtonen has been in net for the Stars in each of the last two matchups, allowing one goal in each.
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