Posted March 24, 2013 on
AP on Fox
The Minnesota Wild are playing their best hockey of the season, but coach Mike Yeo isn't getting too excited.
That's probably a good idea with a game in Dallas on tap.
The Wild will try to extend their winning streak to six on Monday night when they go for their first victory at the Stars in 17 tries.
Winners of 12 of 16, the Wild (18-10-2) have put themselves in a good position to earn their first playoff appearance since 2007-08. Minnesota, though, is just five points ahead of eighth-place Dallas (15-13-3) with five weeks left.
"We're not anywhere yet," said Yeo, whose team followed up a 3-0-0 trip with Saturday's 2-0 victory over San Jose. "The only thing we've done is set ourselves up the right way."
Minnesota has outscored each of its opponents by two during its winning streak - the first such streak in team history - but the club has been outscored by a 2-to-1 margin (60-30) during an 0-11-5 skid in Dallas. The Wild's last road win in this series was 3-2 in overtime on March 21, 2003.
Goaltender Niklas Backstrom has never won in Dallas, going 0-5-3 with a 3.71 goals-against average in eight starts. However, the veteran Finn is 13-3-1 in his last 17 starts, allowing two goals or fewer 12 times during that run.
Backstrom earned his first shutout of the season on Saturday with 33 saves.
"He's been on his game. He's one of the top goalies in the league, for sure,'' said defenseman Ryan Suter, who leads the Wild with seven assists and eight points during the winning streak. "You make a mistake, and he's there to shut the door.''
Josh Harding did that in the only other matchup between these clubs this season - making 24 saves in a 1-0 victory on Jan. 20 - but he hasn't played since Feb. 7 as he's adjusting to medication for multiple sclerosis.
Cristopher Nilstorp was in net for Dallas on Jan. 20, but Kari Lehtonen should get the nod from coach Glen Gulutzan for a 12th consecutive game after stopping 73 of 75 shots in winning his last two. Lehtonen's shutout streak ended at 102:35 late in the second period of Saturday's 5-2 victory over Colorado. It was the start of the Stars' season-high five-game homestand.
"That's what we need," said Gulutzan, whose club has won three of four following an 0-3-1 skid. "Any team's that making a push here has got to get goaltending."
Points from Jaromir Jagr also help. The 41-year-old has a goal in each of the last three games and six points during that stretch to lift his team-high total to 24. Jagr is one assist from becoming the 12th in league history to reach 1,000.
Rookie defenseman Jordie Benn just scored his first NHL goal on Saturday, but even he understands the edge the Stars could have this week as they won't play again after Monday until Friday versus Minnesota. The Wild have a Wednesday home game against the Coyotes before returning to Dallas.
"(Travel is) kind of hard on the body," Benn said, "so you get some time to rest and have at it."
Wild forward Zach Parise, who snapped a season-high five-game goal-scoring drought on Saturday with his team-leading 12th, netted the lone score on Jan. 20. It was his first with the club after spending his first seven seasons with New Jersey.
Parise has no goals in four games in Dallas.
BEST OF MAXIM
ST. PAUL, Minn. Looking back now, Ryan Suter can see all the reasons why his first month with the Minnesota Wild wasn't what he was expecting. Changing teams, systems, coaches, defensive partners; they're all the same reasons Suter didn't want to use earlier in the season as excuses when he was a minus-7 with four points in the first nine games.
Suter, off of that 13...
ST. PAUL, Minn. With Niklas Backstrom starting 10 straight games, the Minnesota Wild switched backup goaltenders Sunday just to get work for their promising rookies.
Minnesota assigned goaltender Matt Hackett and forward Jason Zucker to the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League and recalled goaltender Darcy Kuemper and forward Jake Dowell. Hackett, 23, and Kuemper, 22, have...
ST. PAUL, Minn. Niklas Backstrom said he felt the NHL lockout gave him a "really long summer."
Good thing Backstrom got the rest when he did, because he's not resting much at all these days for the Minnesota Wild.
Backstrom, Minnesota's veteran goaltender, has been the last line in one of the NHL's best defenses and is thankful for every opportunity he gets...
MONDAY'S STORYLINES: Mike Rupp, who has missed the last 3 games with a lower body injury, will be back in the lineup and on the fourth line with Torrey Mitchell and Zenon Konopka. The Wild had recalled Jake Dowell yesterday, who has 7 points and 29 penalty minutes in 26 games with Houston this season, with intention of playing him on the fourth line if Rupp could not go tonight...
Zach Parise scored two goals and added an assist and the Minnesota Wild extended their winning streak to six games with a 7-4 win over Dallas Stars on Monday.
Both of Parise's goals came on bounces that barely made it over the goal line. Mikko Koivu and Matt Cullen each had a goal and assist for Minnesota, which won for the first time in Dallas since March 21, 2003, snapping...
Saint Paul, Minnesota – Recently, I was listening to a weekly podcast of College Hockey Tonight, and the host Scott Williams and Moose Richards were talking about the break of and reformation of the WCHA.
Shameless plug department. First, if you’re not listening to the College Hockey Tonight on KBUN, I highly recommend that you give them a listen. They both know the game...
DALLAS (AP) -- Zach Parise scored two goals and added an assist and the Minnesota Wild extended their winning streak to six games with a 7-4 win over Dallas Stars on Monday.
Both of Parise's goals came on bounces that barely made it over the goal line. Mikko Koivu and Matt Cullen each had a goal and assist for Minnesota, which won for the first time in Dallas since March 21...
Sometimes the fate of enemies can be intertwined by their own decisions. In a geo-political sense it may be connected by its use of various fuels, or strategic interests that can bring two foes to work together to solve a collective problem. This sort of describes the strange relationship between the Minnesota Wild and the San Jose Sharks. These two organizations, opponents...
Minnesota Wild (17-10-2) 36pts 1st in the Northwest
2.55 Goals For (19th)
2.41 Goals Against (5th)
18.6% Power Play (16th)
86.5% Penalty Kill (5th)
Top 5 Scorers:
1. #9 Mikko Koivu ~ 7G 17A = 24pts
2. #20 Ryan Suter ~ 2G 22A = 24pts
3. #11 Zach Parise ~ 11G 12A = 23pts
4. #10 Devin Setoguchi ~ 11G 9A = 20pts
5. #7 Matt Cullen ~ 4G 16A ...
Before I say anything else, I would like to send my condolences to the family of actor Larry Hagman after losing his fight with cancer earlier this year. Hagman would have fit in with most hockey players as he was a free spirit who loved a good practical joke. It is with the memories of Hagman the fun-loving person that I write the rest of this introduction. Larry Hagman'...
Minnesota Wild (18-10-2, 38 pts) @ Dallas Stars (15-13-3, 33 pts)
8:30 PM CT
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
The Wild – 4th in the West
Goals – 19th, Goals Against – 4th, Power Play – 14th, Penalty Kill – 3rd
Much like the Stars much publicized back-to-back troubles of the past couple of seasons, the Wild also have a dubious...
PREVIEW 6:30 AM CDT
In the second match of a five-game homestand that runs through April 1, the Dallas Stars (15-13-3) will play the first of two successive games against the Minnesota Wild (18-10-2) on Monday. Tonight's game at the American Airlines Center starts at 7:30 p.m. CDT and will be televised locally on Fox Sports Southwest.
This is the second of three meetings...