DALLAS – The Wild’s fate is sealed, as it’ll miss out on the playoffs after advancing for six straight years.
But it’s not a given which wild card seed the Stars will finish in, a dynamic that could make Saturday’s season finale in Dallas livelier than the Wild’s last time out.
“You’re going to play hard,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “That’s what we’ve been known to be is a hard-fought team that plays hard whether we score or have success or not. But we’re not going to just sit there and throw in the towel. We’re going to play as hard as we can.”
In a 3-0 loss to the Bruins Thursday, the Wild skated like a team that had just been eliminated from contention. And since Boston didn’t have much at stake, having already booked its ticket to the postseason, a sleepy 60 minutes ensued.
A much more up-tempo game could be on deck Saturday, though.
Dallas is just a point ahead of Colorado for the first wild card spot; the Avalanche takes on the Sharks later in the evening.
Backup Alex Stalock will remain between the pipes after starting Thursday, and winger Pontus Aberg will draw in since winger J.T. Brown is out due to illness.
Both Nick Seeler and Anthony Bitetto will play on defense, with Brad Hunt the odd-man out. And center Nico Sturm will play his second career game after making his debut against the Bruins.
“I just thought he worked hard, and he did a good job for his first game,” Boudreau said. “He got almost 14 minutes of ice time, and he competed every shift. Came off at the right shift. Watch him in the meetings, [he’s] very attentive. So all of those things were good. He’ll probably play in even more of an offensive role tonight, and he probably will play a little bit more.”
Ryan Donato-Eric Staal-Luke Kunin
Jason Zucker-Joel Eriksson Ek-Kevin Fiala
Jordan Greenway-Nico Sturm-Victor Rask
Marcus Foligno-Eric Fehr-Pontus Aberg
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Greg Pateryn
1: Goal for the Wild in each of its last three games vs. the Stars.
4-3: Record for Stalock in seven starts against Dallas.
14-7-2: Showing for the Wild in its last 23 road games.
30: Road points for the wild since Dec.29, tied for fourth in the NHL.
6-4-2: How the Wild has fared in its last 12 trips to Dallas.
About the Stars:
Dallas was in action Friday, losing 6-1 to the Blackhawks in Chicago. It’s fared well against the Wild this season, going 3-1 in the matchup. Center Tyler Seguin has two goals and four points in those games, while rookie defenseman Miro Heiskanen has three assists. Goalie Anton Khudobin has made just one appearance against the Wild this season, giving up one goal on 15 shots. He’s 1-2 in four career against the Wild.