By Andy Lefkowitz
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
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
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
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
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
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.