GAMEDAY: Wild vs. Stars
Minnesota Wild (38-36-7: 83 points, 13th in Western Conference, 4th in Northwest Division)
vs. Dallas Stars (36-31-14: 86 points, 12th in Western Conference, 5th in Pacific Division)
It is very possible that the greatest American hockey player ever will be calling it a career after playing one more game in Minnesota, where his illustrious career began. Mike Modano, the highest-scoring American-born player ever will be making his decision in the offseason, but for those who saw his tears during his final home game in Dallas on Thursday, his mind appears to be made up. That would mean tonight would be the perfect stage for the last remaining North Star to say goodbye where it all began – in Minnesota.
The possibility of Modano playing his final game will likely overshadow the matchup between two teams that fell short of the playoff race. On Thursday, the Wild closed out the road portion of its schedule with a 2-1 shootout win in Calgary. Chuck Kobasew
scored Minnesota’s only goal in regulation, before Brent Burns
and Antti Miettinen
lit the lamp in the shootout. Wade Dubielewicz earned the win after relieving an injured Nik Backstrom early in the third period. He stopped five shots and turned aside two shootout chances.
The Stars closed out their home schedule on Thursday, and it was a fairy tale night for Modano and the Dallas crowd. Modano tied the game at 2-2 with a tip-in goal in the third period. Modano then scored in the shootout to help Dallas to a win.
Utilizing the Gametime Rush Ticket program may be the only way to see what could be Modano’s final NHL game. Click here
for more details.
Wild vs. Stars will be broadcast locally in high definition on Fox Sports North at 7:00 PM. The game can be heard on 830 WCCO AM, or online at Wild.com.
If You’re Going
Not only is there a chance you could be a part of history, but it is also Fan Celebration Night and there will be another “Favorite Things” basket auction outside Section 104. This year, the baskets will include not only Wild player’s favorite things but their Better Halves favorite things as well for “Our Favorite Things.” Each basket will include at least one autographed item.
Meet The South Stars
The Stars have a full roster, but only one number will matter to the fans inside Xcel Energy Center tonight. That number is #9, and for the only time, Mikko Koivu
might be the less popular #9 on the ice tonight.
Modano is not only the greatest American-born player, but he’s also been one the NHL’s best since entering the League in 1989. Only three players – Jaromir Jagr, Joe Sakic and Mark Recchi – have scored more points in that span than Modano’s 1,359.
Backstrom stopped 27-of-28 shots Thursday before taking a puck to the throat and leaving the game with a no decision early in the third period. He is 76-29-18 with a 2.20 GAA and a .919 SV% in his career at Xcel Energy Center. Over his career, Backstrom is 70-46-11 with a 2.45 GAA and a .915 SV% from October through January. However, his numbers improve dramatically at the end of the season – he is 49-22-18 with a 2.25 GAA and a .922 SV% in February through April, with 10 of his 19 career shutouts coming in that span.
It’s all about Modano, and whether or not his last march down the tunnel will be his last appearance in an NHL uniform.
Keep An Eye On
was three-years-old when Modano broke into the League, and now the Elk River native will be charged with shutting him down in his first-ever game at Xcel Energy Center. Prosser hasn’t shown any evidence that he can’t handle the assignment. In two NHL games, he’s a +1 with an assist and he played 21:30 in Calgary on Thursday.
Probable Wild Line Combos
The Wild made one more call-up for the season with an injury to James Sheppard
. Petr Kalus
will play his second NHL game tonight:
Probable Defensive Pairings
will return tonight, and Prosser will make his home debut:
Between The Pipes
is fine after taking that puck to the throat, and he will close out the season between the pipes.
View From The Press Box
With so many injuries, the Wild won’t have any healthy scratches.
Schultz (leg) will return after missing two games. Guillaume Latendresse
(back), Martin Havlat
(hamstring), Owen Nolan (knee), James Sheppard
(leg), Josh Harding
(hip), Andrew Ebbett (finger), Clayton Stoner
(hernia) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard
(concussion) are all out.
Richards’ Quote of the Day
"They stuck together, and it wasn't easy. We had a lot of guys playing different positions and different roles, but we found a way to win the game."
-- Todd Richards on his team’s ability to pull another win out of Calgary on Thursday
Honorary State of Hockey Residents
In addition to Modano, the last player who pulled on a North Stars jersey, the Stars have two Minnesota natives – Toby Petersen of Bloomington and Matt Niskanen of Virginia.
Mike Modano has nine goals and 18 assists in 33 career games against the Wild.