Both the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars made some big moves this past offseason in an attempt to snap their respective playoff droughts.
After both opened up the season with a victory thanks to some contributions from the new faces, the Stars and Wild clash on Sunday night in Minnesota.
The Wild had by far the biggest offseason, signing forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter to matching 13-year, $98 million contracts on July 4.
Parise, a Minnesota native who began his career with the New Jersey Devils, had a pair of assists in his debut on Saturday, helping the Wild to a 4-2 win over the visiting Colorado Avalanche.
"It was awesome," Parise said of his first game in front of the Minnesota faithful. "It was electric right at the beginning of the game. It was fun."
Parise assisted on both of Dany Heatley's goals as the latter scored twice on the power play and reached 350 career goals. Heatley led Minnesota with 24 goals and 53 points a season ago and looked to get a spark from his new teammate.
"I just love how he attacks the net," Wild coach Mike Yeo said of Parise. "The skill level and speed, but for a small guy I've seen him hold off guys and protect the puck and he's so strong. The work ethic is just relentless. We talked about him and (Suter) and the other guys we brought in and they fit very well."
Suter logged 27 minutes of ice time and Mikael Granlund, the ninth overall pick of the 2010 draft, scored in his NHL debut. Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu added two assists as the Wild won their 11 straight home opener.
Niklas Backstrom stopped 25 shots for Minnesota, which has missed the playoffs in each of the past four seasons. It will wrap a season-opening homestand on Tuesday versus Nashville.
The Stars, meanwhile, have not qualified for the postseason in four straight years as well and added a pair of 40-year-old vets in Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney this offseason. They also acquired center Derek Roy in a trade and all three registered points in Saturday's 4-3 win over Phoenix.
Jagr had an excellent debut, scoring twice and assisting on the other two goals, including Loui Eriksson's game-winner. Jagr notched the 667th goal of his career and had his first four-point game since Feb. 19, 2008.
"Don't get too used to that guys," Jagr joked. "It was special. The first game is always special. It was strange. We only had one week in training camp and I've got to get used to the new teammates."
That includes Whitney, who led the Coyotes with 77 points last season before scoring and notching an assist against his former club on Saturday. Roy added an assist and Kari Lehtonen made 37 saves.
Jagr and Whitney became just the fourth teammates over the age of 40 to score a goal in the same game since the start of the 1942-43 season.
"They did a really good job there. They read off of each other," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan of the duo's efforts, especially on the power play. "You got two brilliant minds there. They're chattering all the time. So there's a little chemistry going on already with those two. You got players of that caliber that can read of each other, you're good shape."
The Stars have won nine of their last 11 versus the Wild.
Whitney has eight goals and 27 points in 26 career matches against Minnesota, while Heatley leads the Wild with 23 points in 23 games against Dallas.
Parise has five goals and 12 points in nine career meetings with the Stars.