A modest run of points has gotten the Dallas Stars back into the playoff picture. They'll look to secure a hold of the Western Conference's eighth spot this evening with a 16th straight home victory over the Minnesota Wild.
The Stars have put together a 3-1-1 run over their last five games and have won consecutive outings for the first time since bridging the All-Star break with victories on Jan. 24 and Feb. 1. Following a shutout win at Montreal on Tuesday, Dallas finished off a quick two-game swing with last night's 3-1 triumph in Chicago.
The victory gave the Stars 66 points and moved them into a tie with the Flames and Kings for the eighth spot in the Western Conference. Dallas is the only one of those three times in action tonight.
Trailing by one heading into the third frame, the Stars got goals from Michael Ryder, Steve Ott and Loui Eriksson to rally past the Blackhawks. Mike Ribeiro added a pair of assists to push his point streak to five straight games (2 goals, five assists).
Richard Bachman made 26 saves in his first appearance since Feb. 2 and his first victory since Jan. 7. Dallas will likely start No. 1 Kari Lehtonen this evening as it tries to win three in a row for the first time since Dec. 10-15.
"We've been keeping things simple and going back to the basics," said Ryder. "We struggled at the beginning of the season, but we've been turning things around here and have to get back at it (Friday)."
Dallas, which played a fourth game in a row without forward Jamie Benn (leg laceration), has split a pair of meetings so far this season with Minnesota, picking up a 2-1 shootout win when the clubs last met in Texas on Feb. 4. The win was the Stars' seventh in their past nine versus the Wild and 15th in a row at home in the series.
Minnesota has not won in Dallas since March 21, 2003 -- a 3-2 overtime win -- and not in regulation since March 8 of the previous year.
The Wild would love to break that slide tonight and win a third straight game after picking up last night's 3-2 shootout victory in Florida. The consecutive wins, which follow a seven-game slide, has Minnesota three points behind the eighth spot.
Erik Christensen and Matt Cullen both scored in the shootout and Niklas Backstrom stopped both skaters he faced in addition to making 41 saves through overtime. Cullen also scored in regulation, as did Kyle Brodziak as he notched his career high-tying 16th goal of the season.
"Sometimes you just get that one or two bounces and it's going to make a huge difference," said Backstrom. "I hope we're going to get them because I know the work has been there so we just have to keep building."
The Wild will try to prevent the Stars from picking up their 1,500th victory in franchise history. Of those wins, 758 took place when the club was known as the Minnesota North Stars.