Wild lose special teams battle against Stars and fall behind 3-1 in series

Jared Clinton
Colton Sceviour celebrates in front of Devan Dubnyk (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

With how impressive the Dallas Stars’ offense has been all season, the last thing the Minnesota Wild wanted to do was trade punches with the Central Division champions. But even in a game where the Wild held the Stars to only one even strength tally, the Stars offense still found a way to connect and the defense stepped up in a big way when it mattered most.

For the second consecutive games, Minnesota’s defense smothered Dallas and offered little in the way of time or space for the offense to operate. The Wild limited the Stars to only 18 shots on goal at 5-on-5, did their best to lay down and block shots where possible and were all around keeping the attempts to the outside. But twice in the game, Minnesota committed infractions that saw them go a man down, and both times Dallas connected on the power play.

Through the first three games of the series, that type of penalty kill play had been atypical of the Wild. Minnesota entered Game 4 tied for third in the playoffs with a 92.3 percent penalty kill percentage and only allowed Dallas’ top-five ranked power play to connect once on 13 attempts. When it mattered most, though, the Wild floundered, and maybe that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Minnesota entered the post-season with the 27th-ranked penalty kill in the league, and only the Arizona Coyotes, Ottawa Senators and Calgary Flames fared worse, and on Wednesday night, the Wild were simply outmatched by a deadly Stars power play. Read more

Wild erase early two-goal deficit, take Game 3 as offense finally solves Stars’ defense

Jared Clinton
Mikko Koivu (Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Through the first two games of the first-round series against the Stars, the Wild had scored only managed one goal against a Dallas defense that had been mediocre all season and masked by the offensive power of the Stars. But Minnesota’s offense finally found its legs Monday, drawing one game closer to evening the series with a 5-3 victory.

The Wild couldn’t have found the back of the net at a better time, either, because in the early stages of Game 3 it appeared it was going to be a long night for the Xcel Energy Center faithful. Minnesota came out flat in their first home game of the series and watched as Patrick Sharp scored two goals in the first 4:10 of play to give the Stars an early 2-0 lead. The Wild slowly began to piece it together as the period wore on and were finally rewarded with 50 seconds remaining in the period. Chris Porter scored Minnesota’s second goal of the series to cut the Stars lead in half, and while it wasn’t exactly the floodgates opening, Porter’s goal helped the Wild break through.

Six minutes into the second frame, Erik Haula, playing his second game since returning from a lower-body injury, scored on a clever deflection while driving the net to even the score. Haula’s goal would be followed by yet another late-period Wild goal, this one coming off the stick of Jason Pominville with 47 seconds remaining in the frame to give Minnesota their first lead of the series. Read more

Controversial goal helps Stars edge Wild in Game 2

Dhiren Mahiban
Referee Brad Meier signals for a Dallas Stars goal against the Minnesota Wild after a review in the second period in Game Two. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

During his postgame media availability Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk was still fuming over Antoine Roussel’s second period goal.

The Stars forward gave Dallas a 1-0 lead 3:54 into the middle frame as the puck directed off his skate, off the back of Dubnyk and into the net.

The goal was initially waved off, but after officials conferred with Toronto, it was ruled a good goal.

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Jason Spezza’s snipe highlights Stars lopsided win over Wild in Game 1

Ian Denomme
Jason Spezza (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Dallas Stars aren’t being talked about much as Stanley Cup contenders, given the powerhouse teams in their division and conference. But they may in fact play in the most lopsided series of the first round, and turn some heads along the way.

Kari Lehtonen only had to make 22 saves for his second career playoff shutout and the Stars routed the Wild 4-0 in Game 1. Dallas outshot Minnesota 32-22, including 14-2 in the first period.

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GM Don Maloney lost front-office power struggle in Arizona

Ken Campbell
Coyotes president and CEO Anthony Leblanc (right) and Don Maloney  (Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images)

Now that Don Maloney has been ousted after laying an enormous amount of groundwork for the future success of the Arizona Coyotes, someone else will now come in and get most of the credit. And make no mistake, Maloney’s firing will signal an about-face in how the Coyotes run their hockey department.

Under Maloney, the Coyotes did things the right way, building up a stable of draft picks and prospects with terrific drafting and trading of veterans. But now, essentially because coach Dave Tippett won the power struggle that cost Maloney his job, the mandate will be to win immediately. “Now, they’re going to do it the stupid way,” said one NHL executive.

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Seguin ‘progressing nicely,’ but Stars uncertain about return for start of playoffs

Jared Clinton
Tyler Seguin (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Stars sniper Tyler Seguin has missed the past eight games following a 15 percent cut of his Achilles tendon, but Dallas got some good news when Seguin began skating this week. Don’t take that to mean Seguin is certain to return for the opening game of the post-season, though.

According to Stars coach Lindy Ruff, the team is encouraged by the way Seguin’s recovery has gone thus far, but the original diagnosis was that Seguin would miss anywhere from three to four weeks. At this point, he’s been on the sideline for 21 days, and Ruff was trying to be cautiously optimistic when asked about Seguin’s return when the Stars open the playoffs.

“He’s skating in a limited fashion, I would say somewhere between the 50 and 75 percent range,” Ruff said, via Mark Stepneski. “There are times he pushes it, but we’re trying to be a little cautious with that, too. He’s progressing nicely, and we just hope to keep on progressing here.”

Ruff added it was “too early” to comment on a return date. Read more

Silent super star: Jamie Benn has kept a low profile in Dallas, but there’s no denying he’s one of the NHL’s best

Ken Campbell
Jamie Benn. ( Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

The plan was perfectly in place…that is, until a scout named Dennis Holland came in and screwed it all up. Jamie Benn was going to take the hockey scholarship he had accepted when he was 15 to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. He was supposed to play hockey in the winter, and in the summer he’d roam center field in the Alaska Baseball League, a six-team loop that boasts some of the best college talent in the world and where the likes of Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Mark McGwire, Dave Winfield and Mark Grace stopped on their way to the major leagues. You know, just so he didn’t burn any bridges.

Back in 2006-07, Benn was a year removed from Jr. B hockey in British Columbia and was happily unaware of his potential, playing on Vancouver Island, which is a picturesque 90-minute ferry ride from Vancouver. But three hours round trip on a boat isn’t the kind of time a lot of hockey scouts have on their hands. Benn was playing in the British Columbia League but wasn’t even good enough to be named to Team West for the World Jr. A Challenge. Kyle Turris, Justin Fontaine and 20 guys who never made it to the NHL were, but Benn wasn’t.

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The Hockey News Podcast: Episode 10 — Patrick Sharp on his first year in Dallas; are the St. Louis Blues for real?

Patrick Sharp (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

Welcome to Episode 10 of The Hockey News Podcast.

This week, we chat with Dallas Stars right winger Patrick Sharp to talk about his first season in Dallas, their playoff expectations, and how Tyler Seguin is stealing some of his thunder.

We also discuss whether the red-hot St. Louis Blues are for real; how teams should handle their goaltenders in the playoffs; if Phil Kessel really is the most overrate player in the NHL; and we take reader questions in the mailbag.

Download and subscribe on iTunes, and on Soundcloud.

[Music: Metz-Headache; Quicksand-Omission]