Prior to Saturday night’s action, the Dallas Stars were two points behind Anaheim and Chicago for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot
. So, the Stars will have one eye on the scoreboard when they step on the ice Sunday at 3 p.m. (PT) to face the Minnesota Wild
in the final regular season contest for both teams.
If the Chicago Blackhawks defeat the Detroit Red Wings in regulation or overtime Sunday at 9:30 a.m. (PT), Dallas’ matchup against Minnesota will not have any meaning.
Should Chicago lose its game against Detroit, Dallas would make the playoffs as the eighth seed with a win against Minnesota thanks to the second tiebreaker (head-to-head matchups against Chicago).
Dallas has been able to battle for the final playoff spot thanks to a late season push that has seen the club capture its last four games. Unfortunately, the winning streak followed a six-game losing skid.
The latest victory occurred Friday when the Stars edged Colorado as 205 road favorites, 3-2. The win lifted Dallas’ road ledger to 20-17-1-2. The Stars are 14 games above .500 despite allowing four more goals than they has scored (224-228).
The combined five goals dipped below the 5 ½-goal closing total, enabling the ‘under’ to improve to 42-39-1 in Dallas’ first 81 encounters.
Mike Ribeiro, Brenden Morrow and Loui Eriksson each netted a goal to lead the Dallas offense, while Kari Lehtonen stopped 15-of-17 shots to register the victory.
Lehtonen, who has now played in 23 consecutive games, is 34-23-4-7 with a 2.53 GAA and .915 save percentage. He has also fashioned three shutouts.
Minnesota fell out of the playoff race quite a long time ago and is just playing out the string.
Though the Wild have dropped 11 of their last 14 outings, they did register a 3-1 victory against Edmonton on Friday in their most recent contest. The combined four goals dipped below the NHL odds, leaving the ‘under’ 41-33-7 in Minnesota’s first 81 overall efforts.
Defensemen Brent Burns and Jared Spurgeon netted power-play goals to lead Minnesota’s offense, while Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Mikko Koivu each collected three assists apiece.
Jose Theodore made 28 to register the win and raise his record to 14-11-3. However, Niklas Backstrom has received the most work in the Minnesota net. Backstrom is 22-23-1-4 in 51 games with a 2.66 GAA and .916 save percentage.
Dallas has defeated Minnesota in all three meetings this season, including a pair of 4-0 shutout victories. The Stars are now 21-6 in the last 27 matchups against the Wild.
The closest game occurred during the initial meeting this season (Dec. 4), with the Stars notching a 4-3 victory as 185 home favorites. The combined seven goals skipped above the 5 ½-goal total, which was the lone game in the season series to go ‘over.’
Dallas has outshot the Wild in the three games, 92-71, including a 31-14 advantage in the most recent meeting (March 11). The Stars are 2-for-13 on the power play, while Minnesota has failed to score during its nine opportunities with the man advantage.
Dallas backup goalie Andrew Raycroft recorded one of the shutouts against the Wild, while Lehtonen notched the other.