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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 18th (All times Eastern)
Dallas Stars (21-19-7) at Minnesota Wild (26-19-5), 9 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Minnesota Wild look to continue a January surge on Saturday night in the first of two meetings with the Dallas Stars in four days.
The Wild have won six of eight to begin the month after closing December with six straight regulation losses. This current run has Minnesota tied with the Vancouver Canucks for seventh place in the Western Conference.
With 49 points, the Stars have fallen eight points behind the Wild and Canucks thanks to seven losses in their last eight games.
Minnesota used a three-goal barrage to knock off the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 on Thursday. Defenseman Nate Prosser got the run started with 3:15 to play in the second period, netting his first goal in almost two years, and Justin Fontaine made it a two-goal Wild edge with 1:03 to go in the frame.
Jason Zucker added the exclamation point by scoring eight seconds into the third period.
Wild coach Mike Yeo praised Prosser, who was playing in his 24th game of the season after being a healthy scratch for most of December and scored his first goals since Feb. 7, 2012.
"Prosser is an unbelievable professional," said Yeo. "There's no question he's made the absolute most of this opportunity. He's a guy that wins."
Jason Pominville, held without a goal in six straight, scored his 19th tally of the season and also had an assist, while Darcy Kuemper made 20 saves in his third straight start. Kuemper will get the call again on Saturday in his first career outing against Dallas.
Following this contest, the Wild are idle until visiting the Stars on Tuesday while Dallas also visits Nashville the day before hosting Minnesota.
The Stars hope to have built some momentum by then. They snapped a six-game losing streak with a win over Edmonton on Tuesday, but then lost a 4-2 decision to the visiting Boston Bruins on Thursday. Five of the six goals scored in that loss came in the third period.
Jamie Benn and Erik Cole scored for the Stars, while former Bruin Tyler Seguin assisted on both goals. Kari Lehtonen gave up three goals on 40 shots in the loss.
"It was a mixed bag for me with pockets of good plays," said Dallas head coach Lindy Ruff. "We got some breaks that could have allowed us to win and we made some mistakes that gave them really good opportunities. We lost some wall battles that led to a couple goals and Boston came out tonight really determined."
Both defenseman Sergei Gonchar (lower body) and forward Ray Whitney (upper body) are questionable for this game, though blueliner Aaron Rome may be able to return from a lower-body ailment that has kept him out of the past three games.
The Stars lost a 5-1 decision in Minnesota on Oct. 12 in the first of four meetings this season, their third setback in the last four encounters in this series.
The Wild have won four of their past five at home versus the Stars.
01/18 11:11:45 ET