The Dallas Stars likely would use any means of motivation necessary to end their current skid. The bad memories of their last trip to Minnesota might provide just what they need to make that happen.
Looking to avoid matching a season high with their fifth consecutive defeat Saturday night, the Stars return to St. Paul for the first time since the Wild ended their playoff chances in the final game of last season.
Dallas simply needed to win at Minnesota in the league's regular-season finale April 10 to clinch its first playoff berth since 2007-08. However, the Stars went home dejected after a 5-3 loss snapped their six-game winning streak against the Wild and ended their postseason hopes.
The memories of that disappointing finish likely remain fresh in the minds of those players still in Dallas. That result could possibly provide the fuel the club needs to snap its four-game skid.
The Stars (24-20-2) also lost five straight Nov. 11-19.
Still without their injured top two centers Jamie Benn (appendectomy) and Mike Ribeiro (knee), the Stars fell 2-1 at home to Tampa Bay on Friday. Dallas has yielded just eight goals during the four-game losing streak but has managed only four itself.
Tom Wandell scored on an assist from Loui Eriksson in the third period Friday, but the Stars struggled out of the gate while being outshot 13-5 in the first period.
"The frustrating part was the first 30 minutes of getting outworked,'' coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We have to work 60 minutes every night with everyone in our lineup if we want to make the playoffs. If we don't, we won't play. That needs to be learned.''
Eriksson, who has a goal and assist in his last two games, had three assists in the April loss at Minnesota. He's recorded two goals and five assists in his last four road games against the Wild.
Like Dallas, Minnesota (22-18-7) also looks to generate some offense and avoid a fifth consecutive loss. The Wild return home after being outscored 17-6 during an 0-3-1 road trip that concluded with a 4-1 loss at Toronto on Thursday.
Nick Johnson scored the only goal late in the third period for Minnesota, which managed 21 shots while continuing to play without injured forwards Mikko Koivu (upper body), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (nose) and Guillaume Latendresse (concussion).
"I've been coaching for quite a while and been part of a lot of games I didn't like, and this one ranks right up there,'' Wild coach Mike Yeo said.
Minnesota needs more production from star Dany Heatley, who has been held without a point over the last three games and has just two assists in his last five. He has two goals and four assists in his last four against Dallas.
Looking for an offensive boost, the Wild have called up four players who could see action Saturday. Two of those, forwards Chad Rau and Jed Ortmeyer, each had seven goals for Houston of the AHL.
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