Rising Stars look to continue surge against struggling Wild

The Dallas Stars will try to continue their rise in the Central Division when they visit the Minnesota Wild on Sunday in St. Paul, Minn.

Jason Robertson completed his first NHL hat trick Friday by scoring on a breakaway 4:30 into overtime, giving the Stars a 4-3 road victory against the Winnipeg Jets.

Dallas holds the first wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference but has designs on more. The Stars have won three in a row and are 13-4-1 in their past 18 games, moving them within two points of the third-place Wild, who have played one fewer game, in the Central Division. They are five points behind the second-place St. Louis Blues.

"It's just a big win for our team," Robertson said after his 100th NHL game. "I'm glad we got rewarded. We stuck with it, everyone did, and these two points are very important for us."

Robertson has scored five of his team-leading 26 goals in the past four games. The last time these teams met, on Dec. 20 in Dallas, the 22-year-old forward had two assists in the Stars' 7-4 victory.

"He's a natural goal-scorer, he's got a great touch around the net, and he loves to score," Stars coach Rick Bowness said. "His poise with the puck and where to put it, when to put it, you can't teach those instincts that he has."

Joe Pavelski, who leads the team in assists (36) and points (57), earned his 900th career point after setting up Robertson's first goal on Friday. The 37-year-old Pavelski is riding a four-game assist streak.

Pavelski opened the scoring in the Stars' victory over the Wild in December.

Minnesota's Kevin Fiala tallied twice in that game and had a goal and an assist Friday in a 5-4 road loss to the Buffalo Sabres. The Wild are 2-7-0 in their past nine games after an 11-1-1 run.

"I guess what goes around comes around," Wild coach Dean Evason said of his team's recent troubles. "We get up there and we thought we're in a pretty good spot. Teams don't quit. We know that. We don't quit, so I don't care where we are, you know who we're playing. The league's real good."

Reigning Calder Memorial Trophy recipient Kirill Kaprizov scored two goals and assisted on another for the Wild in the loss at Buffalo. The 24-year-old had three assists in a 7-2 win against Dallas on Nov. 18, then scored a goal and setting up two others in the Dec. 20 loss.

Mats Zuccarello sat out the loss at Dallas with an upper-body injury, but Evason told reporters he is likely to return against Dallas.

The Wild may also get defenseman Matt Dumba and forward Jordan Greenway back into the lineup. Dumba has missed 10 games with a lower-body injury, and Greenway has sat out the past five with an upper-body ailment.

Dallas, in turn, could see the return of center Tyler Seguin and defenseman Miro Heiskanen. Bowness said both were "under the weather" and sat out on Friday.

--Field Level Media

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