Will Wild stay alive against Stars?

Will Wild stay alive against Stars?

The majority of hockey pundits didn’t expect Minnesota to last this long in its opening-round playoff matchup with No. 1 seed Dallas. Now that the scene has shifted back to the Twin Cities, though, why not go for broke?

John Torchetti’s Wild hope their devil-may-care approach can keep producing unexpected success today. The host squad faces off against the Stars at 3 p.m. ET, with Lindy Ruff’s troops listed as 1.5-goal favorites. Handicappers at online sports book Bovada.lv give the Central Division’s representative odds of +115 to spring the upset and extend the series.

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Minnesota already resorted to overtime two nights ago, claiming a 5-4 victory thanks to Mikko Koivu’s fortuitous deflection. The center had been held to a single point through 15 periods of action between the two teams. Still missing leading scorer Zach Parise (upper body) and Thomas Vanek (lower body), Torchetti must see others rally to Koivu’s cause if the Wild stand a chance of evening the proceedings.

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Dallas seemed decidedly nonplussed following the disappointing outcome of Game 5. For an organization that last tasted the semifinals since 2008, however, one wonders about the element of killer instinct here. Kari Lehtonen draws the assignment in net on the heels of a less-than-stellar performance by Antti Niemi. Even so, Minnesota’s well-established nose for the second round demands respect – and makes for a nearly dead-even showdown at Xcel Energy Center.

SUNDAY NHL FREE PICK: STARS/WILD UNDER 5 GOALS

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