The Dallas Stars left Minnesota nearly 15 years ago. Recently, they’ve had an easy time when the team that eventually replaced them comes to visit Texas.
The Minnesota Wild will try to avoid their seventh straight road loss to the Stars when the teams face off at the American Airlines Center on Wednesday night.
The former Minnesota North Stars joined the NHL in 1967, but left for Texas in 1993 and won the franchise’s lone Stanley Cup in 1999. Since the Wild joined the league in 2000, they’re just 3-6-2 with one tie in Dallas, and have lost six straight there since the start of the 2003-04 season, allowing at least three goals each time.
The Wild (20-13-2) are also facing a team on a hot streak. The Stars (21-12-4) have won three in a row at home and seven of nine in Dallas since mid-November. They’ve also been victorious in six of seven overall to move into first place in the Pacific Division.
“Our guys have battled awfully hard over the past several games,” Dallas coach Dave Tippett told the team’s official Web site. “We keep going out and doing what we can to earn wins.”
In a 4-1 win over Montreal on Sunday, Marty Turco stopped 17 shots and Mike Ribeiro had a goal and two assists for his fifth multi-point game in his last seven. Ribeiro, a Montreal native who had spent six seasons with the Canadiens until he was traded to Dallas in 2006, has seven goals and seven assists over that span, and is already one goal away from matching the career-high 20 he had in 2003-04.
“I got traded at a young age and I really appreciate (Montreal general manager Bob Gainey) sending me to a place like Dallas,” said Ribeiro, who’s led Dallas to a 12-4-1 record this season when he scores. “He sent me to a great team and I’m grateful I’m here with the Stars.”
Dallas also has allowed two or fewer goals in five of their last six games, and Turco has a 7-2-0 record and a 1.85 goals-against average in December.
Turco is 9-4-1 with a 1.78 GAA in his career against the Wild, though he was pulled after allowing two goals in the first eight minutes of the teams’ last meeting in Dallas, a 4-2 Stars win on Feb. 6.
The Wild’s four-game winning streak ended Saturday with a 4-1 home loss to Detroit. Marian Gaborik, coming off the first five-goal game by an NHL player in 11 years, assisted on the lone goal, giving him eight goals and four assists in a seven-game points streak.
Gaborik is averaging nearly a point per game against Dallas. In 22 games, he has 10 goals and 11 assists.
Goalie Nicklas Backstrom had 47 saves against Detroit, but Josh Harding has been the more capable starter recently. He’s played every minute of the Wild’s recent win streak, with a 2.00 GAA over that stretch. Harding has never faced the Stars.