Round 1 preview: Stars look to continue domination over Wild
After the two franchises teamed up for an alumni game against the Chicago Blackhawks in February, the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild will be playoff opponents for the first time in the opening round of the postseason.
Related: Panthers-Islanders, Capitals-Flyers, Red Wings-Lightning
The Western Conference champion Stars took four of five regular-season meetings against the Wild, but three of those wins came in overtime.
The Wild are entering the playoffs winless in their past five games, with three of those losses coming against non-playoff teams.
Tale of the Tape
|3.23 (1st)||Goals per game||2.60 (18th)|
|2.78 (19th)||Goals against||2.49 (9th)|
|22.1 (5th)||Power play||18.5 (15th)|
|82.3 (10th)||Penalty kill||77.9 (27th)|
|52.6 (3rd)||Corsi||47.9 (23rd)|
|8.0 (7th)||5-on-5 SH%||7.6 (15th)|
|91.7 (27th)||5-on-5 SV%||93.1 (6th)|
|Ja. Benn: 89||Leading scorer||Koivu: 56|
With Tyler Seguin's status for Game 1 still unknown, the Stars captain will have even more pressure on him to score.
Thankfully for Dallas, it just so happens the 26-year-old has more points against the Wild this season than against any other team, recording three goals, six assists, and a plus-6 rating over five games against the division rival.
The Stars don't lack for offensive depth with Jason Spezza, Patrick Sharp, and even defenseman John Klingberg - but Benn will be the key in powering the Stars through to the second round.
Kari Lehtonen/Antti Niemi
The biggest question mark surrounding the Central Division champs is goaltending, with the Stars allowing more goals this season than any other playoff team.
But both netminders finished their seasons with confidence as Lehtonen has won nine of his last 12 starts, while 2010 Cup winner Niemi has an impressive .942 save percentage in his last four.
They may not be too concerned as the Wild have scored just four times across four games since April 1, but whichever goalie is handed the No. 1 job will need to be sharp against Zach Parise and company.
Since signing with the Wild prior to the 2012-13 season, the veteran defenseman has averaged 28:43 of ice time per game - a full minute more than his nearest competitor, Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators.
Expect more of the same in the first round, as Suter averaged 31 minutes per game in five games against the Stars.
After matching or setting new career highs in goals (8), assists (43), and shots on goal (188) this season, it will be Suter's defensive play - tasked with shutting down the Stars' high-powered offense - that will be critical if the Wild hope to pull off the upset.
|Thu. April 14||9:30 p.m.||Dallas||NBCSN/SN360/TVA Sports|
|Sat. April 16||8 p.m.||Dallas||NBCSN/Sportsnet /TVA Sports|
|Mon. April 18||8:30 p.m.||Minnesota||CNBC/Sportsnet/TVA Sports|
|Wed. April 20||9:30 p.m.||Minnesota||NBCSN/SN360/TVA Sports|
|Fri. April 22*||TBD||Dallas||TBD|
|Sun. April 24*||TBD||Minnesota||TBD|
|Tue. April 26*||TBD||Dallas||TBD|
* If necessary
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