Wild look to avoid being swept by Stars - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Wild look to avoid being swept by Stars

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By Andy Lefkowitz

Stats Editor

Dallas (35-34-10) at Minnesota (37-33-9), 8 p.m. EDT

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) -- One big reason why the Minnesota

Wild probably aren't going to the playoffs for the first time in

three years is their play against the Dallas Stars.

Minnesota will try to avoid being swept by Dallas in a season

series for the first time when the teams meet on Tuesday night

for the final time in 2008-09.

Minnesota (37-33-9) recorded a franchise-best 104 points in

2006-07, then won its first Northwest Division title last

season. Besides losing three one-goal decisions to Dallas this

season, the overall health of some top players have contributed

to the Wild's position outside the top eight in the Western

Conference.

They lost franchise scoring leader Marian Gaborik for 65 games

with a lower-body injury and ensuing hip surgery. While he's had

seven goals and three assists in eight games since his return,

the Wild have alternated wins and losses en route to a 4-3-1

record.

Mikko Koivu, the team leader with 44 assists and 62 points this

season, hasn't recorded a goal since March 14 in a 3-2 overtime

loss in Dallas. He's failed to notch a point in eight games

since then, and has also missed three with a right knee injury.

Following this game, 10th-place Minnesota wraps up the season at

home against Nashville and at Columbus. The Wild's playoff hopes

were all but dashed Sunday with a 3-2 loss to Central Division

champion Detroit.

Needing at least one point to retain any realistic hopes of

playing past the regular season, Niklas Backstrom allowed Marian

Hossa to score with 55 seconds left.

"The only thing we can do is work as hard as we can," said

Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck, who had a goal and assist. "The

rest is out of our hands."

Andrew Brunette has scored one goal in each game against the

Stars this season. His 21 tallies are second on the team to Owen

Nolan's 24.

Dallas (35-34-10), which is not headed to postseason for the

first time since 2002, is coming off a 5-4 overtime win in its

home finale against St. Louis on Saturday.

Trevor Daley scored 16 seconds into the extra session, giving

goaltender Matt Climie the win in his NHL debut.

"Obviously, we play all these games to play in the post-season

and when you're not given that opportunity, it's disappointing,"

Daley told the Stars' official Web site. "At the end of the

season, we're going to look back and reflect on it, and we're

going to be upset about what happened."

Climie, recalled from Idaho of the ECHL on Friday, got the start

over Marty Turco (lower-body injury) and fellow rookie Tobias

Stephen.

Loui Eriksson continued his breakout season with two more goals

in the loss, increasing his team-leading total to 36. The left

wing has a goal and six assists against Minnesota this season.

Stars defenseman Darryl Sydor, winding down his 17th NHL season,

needs two goals for 100 and one point for 500 in his career.

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