The Stars have 95 points and are in fifth place in the Western Conference. They are 0-2-2 since starting goaltender Marty Turco was suspended four games for slashing Edmonton’s Ryan Smyth. He can return for Sunday’s season finale against Chicago, a game that could still give the Stars home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
“This is the wrong time of the year to be (slumping),” Stars goaltender Ron Tugnutt said. “We can look at the injuries and Marty’s suspension, but at the end of the day we just didn’t get the job done at all. Now we’re more or less looking for a little bit of help.”
Rob DiMaio scored twice in the second period for the Stars, who were also missing forwards Jason Arnott, Stu Barnes, Scott Young and Jere Lehtinen, and defensemen Sergei Zubov and Jon Klemm due to injuries.
“Sunday, I’d like to see us step up and play well,” Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. “Turco will be eligible and it looks like we may get some other players back, so (Saturday) and Sunday are very important for our team process in getting where we want to be going into the first game of the playoffs.”
Wallin’s second goal put Minnesota ahead 3-2 early in the third, and Marian Gaborik’s breakaway goal sealed the victory for the Wild—7-3-0-1 since March 14.
“We’re playing very well,” Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said. “We’re moving the puck like we haven’t done often during the year.”
Minnesota’s power play, ranked 28th in the NHL at home, put the Wild on top 3-2 at 3:12 of the third period. Wallin took a pass from Eric Chouinard in front of the net and beat Tugnutt.
Fernandez, who stopped 32 shots, made the lead stand with several acrobatic saves down the stretch.
“Late in games we seem to come back,” Fernandez said. “We had a deficit in the second period, but it wasn’t anything we seemed to be afraid of.”
Fernandez, who helped lead the Wild to the Western Conference finals last year, said that even though Minnesota missed the playoffs this season, he was proud of the way the team bounced back from a slow start and finished strong after trading many of its veterans in midseason.
“All I wanted was a good end to the season,” Fernandez said. “When the trading deadline went by and it seemed harder to get to the playoffs, we seemed to relax. We seem to have less talent now, but everybody looked within themselves to do more.”
DiMaio is hoping for a similar turnaround for the Stars in the playoffs.
“What’s done is done,” DiMaio said. “We’ve got to get our game back. If we get help from somebody, so be it. If we don’t, we need to create our owngood fortune.”
DiMaio had his first multigoal game of the season. … The Wild went over three million in home attendance in franchise history. It was their 183rd consecutive sellout. … Wild G Dwayne Roloson was hired by ESPN to provide commentary for the NHL playoffs. … With All-Star D Filip Kuba on the injured with a broken hand, the Wild have moved 19-year-old rookie Brent Burns to theblue line.