The Minnesota Wild take on the Dallas Stars Saturday night at the Xcel Energy Center. The Wild are 1-1-2 entering tonight’s action while the Stars are 2-1-0, both teams have 4 points and are tied for 4th in the Central Division. Last season the Wild took the season series 2-1 and look to continue their winning ways against the Stars tonight. Both teams last win was against the Winnipeg Jets, the Wild beat Winnipeg 2-1 Thursday while the Stars took a 4-1 win in Dallas last night. This will be the second Central Division game for the Wild this season. Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo is planning to go with the same line up as Thursday’s game. The line juggling seemed to work and the forward lines for tonight will be identical with Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Nino Niederreiter on the top line. The second line will again feature Dany Heatley, Mikael Granlund, and Jason Pominville. The third line consists of Matt Cooke, Kyle Brodziak, and Justin Fontaine. The fourth or checking line has Zenon Konopka, Torrey Mitchell, amd Stephane Veilleux. Last game the goals came from Cooke on the third line and defenseman Jonas Brodin with an assist coming from Cooke. Nice production out of that line.
Defensively the pairing will stay the same. The Minnesota defense limited the Jets to just 15 shots on goal for the game. Tonight’s pairings are: Ryan Suter with Jonas Brodin. Jared Spurgeon and Keith Ballard are the second pair and Clayton Stoner and Mathew Dumba round out the defense. Marco Scandella and Nate Prosser will be healthy scratches tonight. The Wild are looking for another strong defensive effort against a Stars team featuring some potent scorers in the line of Jamie Benn, Rich Peverly and Tyler Seguin. That line alone had 8 points against Winnipeg on Friday. Seguin had half that total with a pair of goals and a pair of assists.
Josh Harding will get the start in net once again as Niklas Backstrom is still listed as day to day with a knee injury. Harding had a good outing Thursday allowing just a single goal on 15 shots. Darcy Kuemper will be backing up Harding once again. At the opposite end of the ice will be Dan Ellis. He came on in relief after Kari Lehtonen suffered a lower body injury during the the game against Winnipeg last night.
The Wild have out shot all four of their opponents this season and will need to continue that trend tonight. Limiting the Stars time of puck possession will be a key as well. The Wild power play had been scoring 26.3 percent of the time. The penalty kill however is not as good only killing off penalties 66.7 percent of the time. Hopefully the PK will improve as the season moves along.
Puck drop is at 7pm at the Xcel Energy Center and all fans in attendance will receive a poster schedule. I’ll be back after the game with a recap and some analysis of the night’s action. Until them this is Scott Drain chanting, “Lets’ Go Wild!”