Wild-Stars Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated March 28, 2013
Even when they're not at their best, the Minnesota Wild are finding ways to finish on top. They finally found a way to win at Dallas earlier this week. Minnesota will try to extend its season-best winning streak to eight and match a franchise record for victories in a month when it visits the Stars for the second time in five days Friday night. After Niklas Backstrom surrendered three unanswered goals, the Wild (20-10-2) pulled out a 4-3 overtime home win over Phoenix on Wednesday as Ryan Suter netted the tying goal with 54.3 seconds left in regulation and captain Mikko Koivu scored at 2:43 of the extra session. "It's great that we found a way to win, and I love the way certain individuals stepped up when the game was on the line, but having said that, I think we do recognize that we have to be better than that," coach Mike Yeo said Thursday. "You don't want to play that type of game too often, and you can't play that type of game and expect the results that we got last night." The Wild, going for their longest win streak since a franchise-best nine-game run March 8-24, 2007, are hoping for another positive result in Dallas after snapping a 16-game skid there with Monday's 7-4 victory. Eight players had two or more points in Minnesota's highest-scoring game in four seasons. "I think we're overcoming some demons this year with some buildings that have been hard for this team," said Zach Parise, who had two goals and set up another after scoring in a 1-0 victory over Dallas (15-14-3) on Jan. 20. "That's a good thing for us, we're playing with confidence." That's also true on the road, where Minnesota has won its last five for its longest such run since a franchise-best seven-game win streak Nov. 13-Dec. 10, 2011. That stretch started during the Wild's winningest month, when they went 11-4-0. While Minnesota is in a tight battle with Vancouver for the Northwest Division lead, the Stars are still trying to crack the top eight in the Western Conference. They're hoping three days off between games will help them regroup for a final push. "... The biggest thing is we want to get a little healthier. That's the key thing here," coach Glen Gulutzan told the Stars' official website Wednesday. "We need to have these guys for the last stretch. I think our next practice day is going to be April 11 after this. We need to get healthy and this is certainly going to help." A bounce-back effort from goaltender Kari Lehtonen would also go a long way. He should make a 13th consecutive start after getting beat a season-high six times Monday. "I didn't think it was his strongest game," Gulutzan said of Lehtonen, who had given up two goals while winning his previous three starts in this series. Backstrom was winless in eight starts in Dallas before Monday's 22-save effort. He can now set a career high with an eighth consecutive victory after turning aside 24 shots Wednesday. Stars leading scorer Jaromir Jagr has a chance to extend his goal-scoring streak to five. He last accomplished that feat during a six-game run Feb. 2-March 2, 2006, while with the New York Rangers. The 41-year-old also needs one assist to become the 12th player in NHL history to reach 1,000.
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