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Wild Host Stars, Seeking Fifth Consecutive Win

(Sports Network) – The simple acquisition of Jamie Langenbrunner wasn’t enough to spark the Stars in their most recent game. Langenbrunner will get a chance to personally contribute this evening when he makes his Dallas debut versus the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

The Stars acquired Langenbrunner on Friday for a 2011 draft pick from the Devils and he begins his second tour of duty with the club. The Minnesota-born forward wasn’t able to suit up that night for the Stars, who dropped a 3-2 shootout setback to the New York Rangers for their fifth straight home loss.

General manager Joe Nieuwendyk pulled off the deal for his former teammate in an effort to bolster Dallas’ depth. Langenbrunner was drafted by the Stars franchise in 1993 and spent his first six-plus seasons with the club before getting traded to the Devils. Serving as New Jersey’s captain since December of 2007, the 35-year-old had just four goals and 14 points in 31 games with New Jersey this year.

Langenbrunner has 232 goals and 620 points in 996 career games and won a Stanley Cup title with both Dallas (1999) and New Jersey (2003).

The veteran will now try to get the Stars back on track after they blew a third-period lead in Friday’s loss. Mike Ribeiro and Brian Sutherby scored the goals, but Ribeiro, Brad Richards and Jamie Benn all came away empty in the shootout.

Kari Lehtonen ended with 29 saves in the setback.

“We knew they’re a hard-working team and had to play a full 60 minutes,” said Benn. “We wound up playing 65 and weren’t able to pull out the win.”

While Sutherby scored his first goal since Oct. 26, Ribeiro extended his point streak to five games, totaling three goals and three assists in that span. Loui Eriksson, meanwhile, had an assist to push his point streak to six games (1 goal, 7 assists) and give him four goals and 17 points over his last 12 games. He has six goals and 10 assists in 17 career games versus the Wild.

Dallas, which leads the Pacific Division by five points over Anaheim, will get to put its home troubles aside for a night and go for a seventh straight road victory. However, the Stars begin a three-game homestand on Tuesday.

First, Dallas will look to slow down a Minnesota club that has won four straight for the first time since Jan. 6-13 of last season. The Wild also improved to 8-2-1 in their last 11 games with Saturday’s 4-0 victory over the Sidney Crosby-less Pittsburgh Penguins.

Chuck Kobasew and Martin Havlat scored first-period goals and Jose Theodore made 26 saves to notch his 30th career shutout and first since March 6, 2010. Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Brodziak added goals as well.

“[Theodore] is on top of his game,” said Minnesota head coach Todd Richards. “The other thing where he really helps us out is his puck-handling abilities.”

Theodore has started each game over this win streak while Niklas Backstrom is out with a hip injury. Backstrom did not dress on Saturday and isn’t expected to be in uniform tonight, so either Theodore or the recently-recalled Anton Khudobin will get the call for this game as Minnesota tries to win five straight for the first time since Nov. 27-Dec. 5, 2009.

Theodore is 3-9-2 with a pair of ties and 3.41 goals-against average lifetime versus the Stars, while Khudobin owns just two games (1 start) of NHL experience.

Dallas continued what has been a tight series between these clubs with a 4-3 overtime home victory on Dec. 4. Twenty-five of the past 27 meetings between these two clubs have been decided by two goals or less, with the Stars winning four straight and nine of the last 11 meetings.

Dallas has also won three of its last five in Minnesota.

Lehtonen is 2-2-0 with a 3.65 GAA in his career versus the Wild.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.