The Dallas Stars are flying into the eye of a storm.
No, really -- Minnesota is in the midst of a winter storm with wind gusts as strong as 50 mph. It's also where the Stars will face the NHL's Wild on Saturday.
Minnesota snapped a four-game losing streak Thursday, nipping the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2. The Wild are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games with the worst record in the Central Division.
Their confidence, however, seems renewed as they erase from memory a humiliating 7-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. The win over Tampa Bay launched a four-game homestand before the NHL All-Star break.
"For us to get back on the horse and play the way we did shows how we're capable of playing,"157; said defenseman Ryan Suter, who has four goals and 10 assists in his last 16 games and scored the game-winner against the Lightning. "We want to continue that into the break here and afterward."157;
The Wild focused on puck possession and limiting the Lightning's chances.
"You can't defend all game. You have to have the puck," said Zach Parise, who notched his team-leading 17th goal. "It's so hard to get it back. You gotta do stuff when you get the puck, make plays. That said, you need to be smart, but I feel like in Pittsburgh, for example, anytime we got the puck, we gave it right back to them. That's a tough way to play."
Meanwhile, the Stars were stunned 4-1 at home by the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday. Dallas canceled practice Friday so the team could head to Minnesota early and possibly dodge the winter weather.
It also gave the Stars time to evaluate Miro Heiskanen, who left Thursday's game with an upper-body injury. There's a chance the Stars could turn to defenseman Stephen Johns, who has been recalled after two conditioning games in the American Hockey League.
Johns hasn't played since March 29, 2018, thanks to post-traumatic headaches. He had four points, including one goal, and eight shots in the two games with the Texas Stars.
Dallas general manager Jim Nill said Johns "looked like a man amongst boys"157; in the AHL. The 27-year-old would add some physical presence back into the Stars blue line. A big slap shot has helped Johns score 13 goals in 150 career games.
The Stars, however, must deal with slow starts that have plagued them this season. They lead the NHL in wins when trailing after two periods, and that scenario worked in a big overtime win Tuesday over the Colorado Avalanche.
But it caught up to them on Thursday against the Sabres.
"You're not going to win every game coming back in this league, there's no chance," Stars coach Rick Bowness said. "So even though we have won eight coming back, we've got to try to avoid putting ourselves in that predicament."
Dallas is 7-3-0 in its last 10 games and the Sabres were the first to score more than two goals against the Stars in that time frame.
This meeting promises to be a battle for the puck.
"I think the effort is there to go and score goals," defenseman John Klingberg said. "Maybe some more poise, sometimes, but I think it comes more from having more possession time with the puck down low and grinding out there.
"So that's something that we have to keep working on. To be able to find more time in the O-zone and create cycles or pucks going to the net or beat someone in one-on-ones or create two-on-ones somewhere."
--Field Level Media