DALLAS – Brad Richards and the Dallas Stars are earning points on home ice. Now they have to take that same sense of urgency on the road.
Mike Modano scored his 551st career goal, Richards had three assists, and the Stars maintained their home dominance over the Minnesota Wild with a 4-3 victory on Monday night.
Loui Eriksson, Tom Wandell and Matt Niskanen added goals for the Stars, 11-2-2 in their past 15 home games.
Dallas is 0-7-2 in its past nine on the road, however, and Richards knows his team must pick up the pace away from home if it hopes to earn a playoff spot.
The Stars open a three-game trip Thursday night in Vancouver.
“We’ve talked about 100 times and we can keep talking about it,” Richards said. “We know what we have to do. We’ve got to put it out on the ice. We feel confident at home. Now we have to bring that confidence and attitude on the road. Points are tough to come by on the road. It’s going to be a battle.”
Minnesota hasn’t won in Texas since March 21, 2003, going 0-8-3 in its past 11 road meetings with the Stars. Antti Miettinen scored twice for the Wild, who have lost five straight on the road.
Mikko Koivu’s goal at 15:00 of the third period got the Wild within 4-3, but Minnesota couldn’t complete a rally from a 4-0 deficit.
Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom allowed four goals on Dallas’ first 15 shots before being replaced by Josh Harding late in the second period.
Meanwhile, Alex Auld made 22 saves for Dallas to improve his record to 7-4-3 (4-0-1 at home) in his second straight start and 200th career game. Regular starter Marty Turco has been struggling, allowing 18 goals in his past five starts, and coach Marc Crawford is looking for one of his goaltenders to get on a hot streak as the Stars try to climb into playoff positioning in the Western Conference.
“I was seeing the puck well and the guys did a good job eliminating second chances,” Auld said. “My goal from the start is when I’m playing to give the team as good a chance as possible to win. You want to make it difficult when (the coaches) have to make decisions (on the starting goalie), but at the same time it’s a team game and you want to put everything else aside.”
Crawford said after the game that Auld would get his third consecutive start Thursday night in Vancouver.
Wandell notched the only goal of the opening period at 4:57 when he lifted a wrist shot over Backstrom from low in the left circle.
Modano, the leading U.S.-born goal-scorer in NHL history, scored from the right circle on the power play at 5:02 of the second period.
Eriksson made it 3-0 with his team-high 20th goal two minutes and 40 seconds after Modano scored.
When Niskanen pushed the lead to 4-0 at 13:37 of the second period, Wild coach Todd Richards replaced Backstrom with Harding.
Miettinen’s power-play deflection at 15:03 of the second period opened Minnesota’s scoring.
With less than a minute left in the second period, Dallas’ Steve Ott and Harding exchanged punches behind the Minnesota goal. Seconds earlier, Ott had crashed into Harding during a pileup in the crease.
Harding and Ott received roughing penalties, with Ott being assessed an additional minor for goaltender interference.
Todd Richards thought the skirmish gave his team a lift.
“I think the one thing that got some emotion going on our bench is the altercation with Josh and Ott,” Richards said. “It stirred up some emotion. You could feel it on the bench and that’s what we need from the start of the game. We can’t wait.”
Miettinen’s deflection at 12:36 of the third period got Minnesota within 4-2, and his late goal made it closer.
Todd Richards said that the Wild must concentrate on better starts rather than waiting for comebacks.
The game was important for both teams. Dallas and Minnesota entered the night tied in the conference with 51 points.
“You do have to give the guys credit for battling back, but you can’t put yourselves in that position,” Richards said. “You have to play when the game is tough and the game is tough when it’s 0-0 and you’re playing a team that has 51 points just the same as you and it’s the end of January.”
NOTES: Dallas LW Brenden Morrow and RW Jere Lehtinen are out with upper-body injuries. … Stars D Nicklas Grossman was back in the lineup after sitting out five straight games with a knee injury. … Minnesota D Clayton Stoner (groin) missed his seventh straight game. … LW Fabian Brunnstrom assisted on Wandell’s goal, Brunnstrom’s first point since Oct. 31. … Modano is 25th on the career goal-scoring list.