Wild's losing woes in Dallas continue as Stars hold on in a shootout
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Victories in Dallas have been non-existent for the Minnesota Wild.
That trend continued on Saturday as the Wild, despite a strong showing, were out-dueled by the Dallas Stars in a 2-1 shootout loss to extend their road losing streak against the Stars to 15 games -- the NHL's longest current streak of that nature in the same arena.
The Wild couldn't capitalize on a 34-26 shots on goal advantage, in the spirited showdown between Western Conference rivals both jockeying for a playoff spot.
Though the defeat stalled the momentum the Wild had gained from their recent resurgence, they tempered the impact on the standings by escaping with a point earned from the overtime session.
Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen was nearly impenetrable, stopping 33 shots. His counterpart, Niklas Backstrom was equally resilient in regulation, but he was unable to make a stop in the shootout.
Mike Ribeiro's wrist shot over Backstrom in the second period put Dallas in the lead. The Wild eventually rallied five minutes into the third when Kyle Brodziak converted a Dallas turnover in its own zone into the crucial game-tying goal.
The Wild offensively held the edge on the Stars. However, failure to produce on any of their four power plays kept them rooted in a tie before falling in the shootout.
From the opening face-off, Dallas set a physical, up-beat tempo that the Wild had little trouble matching. Tempers flared sporadically as the two squads labored to find a breakthrough in a defense-oriented game.
Scoreless after the first period, the Wild were getting numerous scoring opportunities, but Lehtonen didn't relent.
Unlike the Wild, Dallas didn't have trouble making its limited time on the power play count. Holding their first man-advantage of the night in the second period, the Stars berated Backstrom until a botched clearance by defenseman Nick Schultz set up Ribeiro, who caught the goalie still trying to get back on his feet.
Lehtonen's shutout was finally ended in the third period. Wild defenseman Nick Johnson made a quick move to recover a turnover by the Stars and sent the puck to a primed Brodziak. His well-timed wrist shot whistled into the net to level the score at one apiece.
However, the goal didn't have the carryover that Wild wanted, leading to the need for overtime and a shootout to settle matters.
Recently acquired center Erik Christensen, playing in his first game as a member of the Wild, was first to go in the shootout. Lehtonen made the save and Loui Eriksson followed by knocking in his attempt to put Dallas up 1-0. Matt Cullen's deke on the ensuing play tied the score, but the Stars scored again to put the Wild in a hole they did not recover from.
With Dallas held to four shots in the third period, the Wild poured on 10 of their own. A hooking call on Stars defenseman Sheldon Souray with 1:07 remaining in regulation opened up one of their best scoring chances of the game. It went to waste though and the Wild proceeded to trudge through a fairly low-key overtime period.
3/21/2003: Date of the Wild's last win in Dallas. They have gone 0-10-5 since.
15: Goals tallied by Brodziak this season, putting him one away from tying his career-high.
8: Shots on goal -- a game-high -- by Dany Heatley
5-6: The Wild's record in shootouts this season.
• Dallas -- Mike Ribeiro (11) on the power play, assisted by Alex Goligoski (13) and Stephane Robidas (12), 15:12. Stars 1, Wild 0
Dallas -- Loui Eiksson (Goal), Jamie Benn (Goal)
1. Kari Lehtonen
2. Mike Ribeiro
3. Dany Heatley
Before returning home for an extended stretch, the Wild (25-20-8) wrap-up their three-game road trip on Tuesday at Columbus. The Blue Jackets, who lost 4-2 in both of the previous two meeting between the two teams, are owners of the NHL's worst record at 14-32-6.