Minnesota Wild (26-9-3-2) vs. Dallas Stars (18-17-8-0)
When: 8:00 PM ET, Saturday, January 14, 2017
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Lines: Minnesota -125 / Dallas +105
The Wild continue to thrill
The Minnesota Wild (26-9-5) have not been phased by the recent end of their 12-game win streak, continuing to play like it’s still going. The Wild have now recorded points in four consecutive games after the historic loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on New Year’s Eve (3-0-1), earning points in 21 of their past 23 outings overall (17-2-4). Their latest game was their second straight win. It left the visiting Montreal Canadiens with egg on their face, as 14 different Minnesota players tallied at least a point in an explosive 7-1 victory at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday. Nino Niederreiter (11 goals, 26 points for the year) netted twice, while Christian Folin (1 goal, 4 points), Eric Staal (14 goals, 38 points), Jordan Schroeder (3 goals, 5 points), Jason Zucker (10 goals, 26 points) and Ryan Suter (6 goals, 24 points) each got a goal.
Devan Dubnyk, who made 20 saves, was just 9 seconds away from his sixth shutout of the year, allowing a power play goal in the dying moments of the game. He is 13-1-0 in his past 14 starts and 22-7-3 for the year with a 1.77 GAA. Dubnyk has played 14 times against Dallas (5-7-2), notching up a 2.89 GAA. The Wild are currently 5th in the league with 57 points from 40 games and have a good 12-5-5 road record. They are averaging the 4th highest amount of goals scored per outing (3.23), conceding the 2nd lowest number defensively (2.10). Minnesota is 13th in power play with 20.2% success rate and 4th in penalty kill with a solid 85.1% expertise.
The Stars down the Wings
With the captain Jamie Benn (10 goals, 34 points for the year) back in the lineup after missing four games with a foot injury, the Dallas Stars (18-17-8) looked livelier than usual, beating the Detroit Red Wings on their own ice for the first time since Oct. 14, 2010. The Wings started in a dominant fashion, outshooting Dallas in the first period 11-4 largely thanks to four power plays (including a 5-on-3 for 1:53 minutes). The Stars, though, managed to bounce back from a 2-1 deficit in the second period, with strikes from Brett Ritchie (9 goals, 13 points), John Klingberg (6 goals, 23 points) and Stephen Johns (4 goals, 8 points) sealing the deal. Lauri Korpikoski (6 goals, 15 points) netted for Dallas in the first period, while former Red Wing Patrick Eaves (15 goals, 24 points) scored into an empty net with 1:06 still left on the buzzer.
After making 36 saves just two days prior in the 2-0 loss against Pittsburgh, goalie Antti Niemi was in a beast mode again, stopping 31 pucks against the Wings, some of them destined to go in the net. He is 9-7-4 now for the season with a 2.84 GAA and has a decent 11-4-2 career record against Minnesota with a solid 1.94 GAA. The Stars are currently 23rd in the league with 44 points from 43 games, trailing the 2nd Wild Card position in the Western Conference just by two points, but with an extra game played. They are scoring the 13th lowest amount of goals per outing (2.65), conceding the 6th highest quantity defensively (3.00 per game). Dallas has the 9th worst power play crew in the league with a lowly 16.7% success rate and is 2nd worst in penalty kill with pretty bad 74.5% efficiency.
- Wild are 8-0 in their last 8 when their opponent allows 2 goals or less in their previous game.
- Wild are 4-0 in their last 4 vs. Central.
- Wild are 9-1 in their last 10 vs. Western Conference.
- Wild are 8-1 in their last 9 road games.
- Stars are 1-4 in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
- Stars are 2-9 in their last 11 Saturday games.
- Stars are 0-4 in their last 4 after scoring 5 goals or more in their previous game.
Despite winning just four games from their last nine trips to Dallas (4-3-2), the Wild are looking quite unstoppable at the moment, while the Stars have been inconsistent for the whole season. Minnesota managed to beat the Stars at home 4-0 during the current campaign, taking the following away fixture past regulation, eventually losing in Dallas due to a Jamie Benn goal 1:23 minutes into overtime. Given the form they are in now, the Wild could easily finish this one within the confines of 60 minutes…