While the Minnesota Wild are no strangers to the postseason, getting out of the first round has become unfamiliar territory
The Wild are in the playoffs for the 10th time in the past 11 seasons but have not won a postseason series since 2015
Minnesota hopes to break that drought when it opens a Western Conference first-round series Monday on the road against the Dallas Stars
The Wild placed third behind the Colorado Avalanche and Stars in the Central Division to make the playoffs for the fourth straight year
While Minnesota heads into the postseason having dropped five of its past seven games (2-3-2), Dallas is surging, having won a season-high six in a row and eight of nine.
The Wild and Stars met four times during the regular season, with each team winning twice. They split both pairs of games in Dallas and in Minneapolis
On Dec. 4, the Wild won a 6-5 shootout in Dallas, before falling at home 4-1 on Dec. 29. Dallas knocked off visiting Minnesota 4-1 on Feb. 8 before falling 2-1 in a shootout on the road on Feb. 17
"I think the regular season probably told the story," Stars coach Peter DeBoer said. "Four really close games, couple of overtime games. Not a lot of room. Physical. I think that's going to be the story of the series
"How do you match up? The playoffs are always a new season. You can learn from the tape and what you know about the teams, but it's a different season."
The Stars are led by Jason Robertson, who leads the team in goals (46) and assists (63), scoring the most points (109) by a Dallas player since the franchise moved from Minnesota prior to the 1993-94 season
Jamie Benn added 33 goals and 45 assists for 78 points, one more than Joe Pavelski, who had 28 goals and 49 assists. Roope Hintz (37 goals, 38 assists) and defenseman Miro Heiskanen (11 goals, 62 assists) also topped the 70-point mark during the regular season.
"They've been able to score a lot of goals five-on-five and power play, and they have a good (penalty kill) record, as well," Wild defenseman John Klingberg said. "So, I think they've been overall top-10, top-five, in almost every category. So, it's a good team, for sure.
The Wild didn't display the same firepower as the Stars during the regular season, with just four players finishing with at least 60 points
Kirill Kaprizov leads the team with 40 goals and 75 points, while Mats Zuccarello has 22 goals and a team-high 45 assists. Matt Boldy has 31 goals and 32 assists.
However, the availability of Minnesota center Joel Eriksson Ek (23 goals, 38 assists) for the series is uncertain as he hasn't played since injuring his leg against Pittsburgh on April 6.
Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury went 24-16-4 with a 2.85 goals-against average, with backup Filip Gustavsson going 22-9-7 with a 2.10 GAA, which ranked second in the league
The Stars ranked third in the NHL by allowing just 2.62 goals a game and the Wild sixth in the league at 2.67
Dallas' Jake Oettinger went 37-11-11 with a 2.37 GAA that was seventh-best during the regular season, with backup Scott Wedgewood finishing 9-8-3 with a 2.72 GAA.
Dallas fell to Calgary in seven games in the first round last season, while the Wild lost in six games to the St. Louis Blues
--Field Level Media