DALLAS – Tom Wandell and Kari Lehtonen made sure the Dallas Stars finally won the second leg of a back-to-back.
Wandell had his second career two-goal game, Lehtonen stopped 28 shots, and the Stars stretched their winning streak to three games with a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Friday night.
Both teams were coming off victories Thursday night. Minnesota pulled out a 3-2 shootout win at Florida, while Dallas was claiming a 3-1 road decision over Chicago.
Entering Friday, Dallas had been 0-9-2 on the second installment of games on consecutive nights this season, a stat the Stars had grown weary of hearing.
Loui Eriksson and Eric Nystrom added goals for the Stars, who improved to 68 points.
“That was a long time coming. We were due to get it eventually and there’s no excuses tonight,” Nystrom said.
The Stars had a balanced approach, receiving points from 11 different players as they earned their 1,500th victory in Minnesota-Dallas franchise history, 742 coming since the team moved to Texas in 1993.
“It’s always good to have everyone going and I thought every line has been playing really well the last couple of games here, so we just have to keep going,” Eriksson said.
Dallas has won 16 in a row at home against the Wild, with Minnesota’s last road victory over the Stars coming on March 21, 2003.
The Stars are eighth in the Western Conference, three points behind Phoenix.
Wild coach Mike Yeo refused to use tired legs as an excuse for his team’s lethargic performance.
“It wasn’t fatigue,” Yeo said. “The other team played last night, too, and had the same travel as us, in the same boat. They executed and made the plays they needed to make. We didn’t.”
The Wild has fallen out of the top eight in the West with a 2-6-2 slide, although Minnesota had won two in a row entering Friday.
Minnesota’s Devin Setoguchi ended Lehtonen’s bid for his 20th career shutout when Setoguchi captitalized on a 5 on 3 with his 15th goal of the season with 7:17 to go in the final period.
Earlier Friday, the Wild traded defenceman Marek Zidlicky to the New Jersey Devils for defenceman Kurtis Foster, forwards Nick Palmieri and Stephane Veilleux, a second-round pick in the 2012 draft and a conditional third-rounder in 2013.
Zidlicky’s been unhappy in Minnesota and was a healthy scratch Friday. He waived his no-trade clause to go to New Jersey.
Wandell scored the game’s first goal, and added an empty-netter at 19:07 of the third.
He put the Stars in front in the first period when he swept his own rebound past goalie Niklas Backstrom for his fifth of the season.
Eriksson skated up the left side and to the net, registering his 20th of the season on a wrist shot later in the period.
When Nystrom racked up his 16th goal from the slot at 3:53 of the second period against the team that traded him to Dallas earlier in the season, Yeo replaced Backstrom with Matt Hackett.
“Next game, we’ve got to be ready and make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Backstrom said.
From there, the Stars went on to complete their first three-game winning streak since Dec. 10-15.
“We’ve been talking about that for a month now, wanting to get some wins put together and now we’re finally doing it,” Lehtonen said. “It’s just an interesting time of the year, with every game so important and we’re having fun, so hopefully, we can keep it going.”
NOTES: Dallas D Philip Larsen was struck in the helmet by a slap shot off the stick of Minnesota’s Matt Cullen with 2:50 left in the second period. The impact cracked Larsen’s helmet and opened a cut on top of the rookie’s head. Larsen went to the locker room for treatment and was done for the night. … Lehtonen has started 15 of Dallas’ last 17 games. … C Jamie Benn (leg), LW Brenden Morrow (neck, shoulder) and C Jake Dowell (finger) were out for Dallas. … Minnesota was without C Mikko Koivu (undisclosed), D Mike Lundin (lower body), G Josh Harding (undisclosed injury), D Clayton Stoner (leg), LW Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion) and RW Carson McMillan (lower body). … With Monday’s deadline approaching, several Stars have been mentioned as trade targets, including Morrow, LW Steve Ott, RW Michael Ryder and C Mike Ribeiro. … Minnesota is 4-2-2 in the second game of back-to-backs.