Mikael Granlund and the Minnesota Wild take on the Dallas Stars on Friday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
DALLAS -- Last season, the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars squared off four times with each team winning twice.
And on Friday night, these Central Division rivals will renew their rivalry with a game at American Airlines Center, the first of five meetings this season.
The Wild (2-2-2, 6 points) are 0-2-0 on the road but Minnesota defeated Arizona 2-1 on Tuesday in the Twin Cities.
Minnesota has a minus-5 goal differential, but center Mikael Granlund sees an easy fix to that early trend.
"We are spending too much time in our d-zone and just defending," Granlund said after practice Thursday. "We got to be better with the puck."
Friday could mark the Wild debut for forward Matt Read, who was recalled from AHL Iowa on Wednesday. Read, 32, played 437 games for Philadelphia between 2011 and 2018 before signing a one-year, two-way contract with the Wild last July.
It's a homecoming for the veteran forward who played collegiately at Bemidji State in northwest Minnesota.
Read skated on the Wild's top line alongside Jason Zucker and Eric Staal during practice Thursday.
"Obviously, they're talented. They're natural goal scorers," Read said of Zucker and Staal. "They know how to put the puck in the net. It's going to be a great opportunity to make sure I go out there and give them the puck as much as I can."
Dallas (3-3-0, 6 points) last played Tuesday, losing 3-0 at the New Jersey Devils, making the Stars 0-2-0 on a quick two-game road trip that also saw them lose 4-1 at Ottawa on Monday.
First-year Stars coach Jim Montgomery would rather return to the road to atone for those losses, but also sees the benefit of starting a three-game homestand on Friday.
"I actually wish we were going back on the road so we could address the road mentality we want to develop," Montgomery said after practice Friday. "We need to get better at our team identity. We're really focusing on our play without the puck. We think we've made a mistake as a staff trying to get too dynamic offensively too quickly and it's taken away our players' aggressiveness. We're thinking too much on the ice."
Montgomery said Ben Bishop will start in goal against the Wild. He also said forward Valeri Nichushkin (undisclosed) will not play Friday but that veteran defenseman Marc Methot, out Tuesday with general soreness and forward Alexander Radulov, held out of practice earlier this week, will both play.
This will be Dallas' first look at the Wild, a foe Montgomery compares to a famous boxer.
"They're an extremely resilient team. They're kind of like Muhammad Ali, they rope-a-dope you," Montgomery said. "They give you a lot of possession time, they seem to be giving up shots, but they're not giving up a lot of quality shots. You can tell they're a veteran team. They're really comfortable being behind 1-0, 2-1. They seem to come back, and they wear you down over time by rope-a-doping you."