Gaborik, Fernandez keep Wild unbeaten

ByESPN.com news services
January 02, 2014, 7:10 PM

— -- ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota Wild no longer consider a victory over the Dallas Stars to be a big upset. Marian Gaborik scored two goals and Manny Fernandez made 33 saves, giving the unbeaten Wild a 3-1 win over the Stars on Thursday night. "I come to work thinking not, 'How much are we going to lose by,' but 'If we keep it tight, we can play with them,''' Fernandez said. "I'm not going to lie. I thought we had a chance from the start.'' Pascal Dupuis had two assists for Minnesota (3-0-1), which handed Dallas its first loss. The Stars outshot the Wild 34-24, but Fernandez didn't yield a goal until Ulf Dahlen scored on a power play to make it 2-1 with 4:09 remaining. "I don't think we had the same jump that we did in the first four games,'' Dallas defenseman Darryl Sydor said. "We didn't try to initiate.'' Gaborik, the 3-year-old franchise's first-ever draft pick, scored his first two goals of the season and reached 50 for his career. Dallas committed the game's first penalty, an interference call on Aaron Downey, and it cost them 1½ minutes later. Dupuis fired a shot that glanced off Marty Turco's shin pads, and Gaborik -- who hit the post with a shot earlier in the first period -- knocked the rebound in with 34 seconds left on the power play. The Wild took a 2-0 lead with 2:44 left in the second period when Sergei Zholtok passed behind the goal to Dupuis, who fed Gaborik for a one-timer past Turco's stick. "They're tough to play against,'' Turco said. Minnesota made it 3-1 with 59 seconds left on an empty-net goal by Bill Muckalt. Muckalt broke a 75-game scoring drought with two goals Tuesday against Florida and wasn't supposed to play because of a deep bone bruise in his right foot. He scored on Thursday by nudging the puck toward the goal as he was pulled down by Sergei Zubov between the circles. "We were strong at the end,'' Gaborik said. "That was very important.'' The Wild improved to 4-4-1 against Dallas. Only Mike Modano, Derian Hatcher and Richard Matvichuk have stayed with the Stars franchise since its days in Minnesota, and Norm Green -- the reviled owner who moved the North Stars to Texas in 1993 -- is no longer around. Still, nobody in Minnesota minds seeing Dallas lose. "I'm sure this game is circled on their calendar,'' Modano said. Fernandez, who bounced between the Stars and the minor leagues from 1994-2000, joined Minnesota for its inaugural season and went 19-17-4 with a .920 save percentage that ranked sixth in the NHL. Last year, his slumped to 12-24-5 and his goals-allowed average rose to 3.05. Now he's 3-0, with just three goals allowed for the Wild, who are tied with the Stars (3-1-1) for the most standings points (7) in the Western Conference. Wild coach Jacques Lemaire was asked if he thought his team played its best. "I know the goalie did,'' Lemaire said. "I just don't want to believe this is our best game. We knew it would be a great test for us. When Detroit steps in town (Saturday), it will be another one.'' Game notes

The Wild placed LW Matt Johnson (back spasms) on injured reserve and recalled LW Stephane Veilleux from Houston of the AHL. ... Rob DiMaio played in his 700th career game for Dallas. ... Dupuis became the 14th player to record a point for Minnesota this season and the seventh to have a multipoint game. Only 15 players had more than one point in a game last season for the Wild. ... Minnesota's first loss last year was in its seventh game -- a 3-2 overtime defeat to St. Louis.

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