Sports

Streaking Stars play host to Wild

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Stars hope to beat the Minnesota Wild for the first time this season and extend their overall winning streak to four in a row on Saturday night when the two clubs clash at American Airlines Center.

The Stars won their final three games of December and have claimed a victory in seven of their past eight games. They were in dominant form last time out, routing the Arizona Coyotes 6-0 on Wednesday.

Six different Dallas skaters scored, including Brett Ritchie in his NHL debut. The 2011 second-round pick was recalled from the American Hockey League earlier in the day with Shawn Horcoff battling illness and opened the scoring at the 7:22 mark of the second period.

Colton Sceviour added a goal 63 seconds later and Jamie Benn, Cody Eakin, Ales Hemsky and Ryan Garbutt all lit the lamp in the third period. Kari Lehtonen did his part with 32 saves for his third shutout of the season and 30th of his career.

"We are learning how to play a full 60 minutes and are managing the puck better," Benn said. "It was a lot of fun tonight. We definitely fed off the crowd."

The Stars are 7-2-1 in their past 10 games at home and will visit Chicago on Sunday. It is unknown if Lehtonen will start both games or if backup Anders Lindback will see action either tonight or Sunday.

Lehtonen is 7-7-2 with a 2.90 goals against average, .896 save percentage and three shutouts in his career, while Lindback is 1-0-0 with a 1.71 GAA and .925 save percentages in two meetings with one start.

Dallas' backup is just 1-5-0 on the season with a 4.28 GAA and .864 save percentage in six games (4 starts) and has not started since Nov. 29. Lindback picked up his first win of the season in relief on Dec. 21.

Whoever gets the start will try to help the Stars beat the Wild for the first time in four meetings this season. Minnesota's last two wins in this series both came in Dallas, including a 5-4 overtime decision on Nov. 28.

After failing to string together back-to-back wins in December, the Wild can win for the second time in as many games this month after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on Friday night.

Darcy Kuemper made 34 saves and Jared Spurgeon and Mikko Koivu scored 1:55 apart in the third period. Kyle Brodziak had a second-period tally and Charlie Coyle notched two assists as Minnesota snapped a four-game skid at home.

"We were far from perfect, but I thought it was a solid team win," said Minnesota coach Mike Yeo.

The Wild won for only the second time in eight games (2-3-3) and have not posted consecutive wins since a four-game run from Nov. 13-20.

Kuemper is 4-2-0 with a 2.65 GAA and .921 save percentage in six meetings with the Stars, while Niklas Backstrom is 5-7-5 against them with a 2.83 GAA and .895 save percentage in 17 games (16 starts).