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more well-thrown pitches than

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Matt Dumba and the Minnesota Wild started a defining two-game stretch against the Dallas Stars with a determined performance.

They’re one step closer to a spot in the playoffs.

”That was what fueled the fire Dean Lowry Jersey , just wanting to bury these guys,” Dumba said. ”Not let them think that they could potentially get back into this thing by getting a couple victories against us.”

Dumba scored on a power play and finished with three assists for a career-high four points, leading the Wild past the fading Stars 5-2 on Thursday night.

”It’s something we talked about, making that gap even bigger and pushing more teams down,” said Zach Parise, who scored 59 seconds after Dumba in the second period and tacked on an empty-netter in the waning seconds.

Mikael Granlund sparked the Wild with a short-handed goal in the first period , set up by the first of two assists by Ryan Suter, and Jason Zucker scored on a power play with 11 seconds left before the second intermission.

Even more important than Granlund’s goal was the effort by the Wild that immediately followed it.

Tyler Seguin had set up Benn in the slot for the lead for the Stars less than three minutes into the game, and a high-stick double-minor penalty on Wild defenseman Ryan Murphy produced a four-minute power play. Granlund scored just 12 seconds in, and the Wild penalty killers took over from there.

”It was a big turning point, and it gave us a lot of life,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.

Jamie Benn and Devin Shore scored for the Stars, who have lost eight straight road games, including six in regulation. They’re just 1-7-2 in their past 10 games overall Tramon Williams Jersey , staggering into position for the knockout punch to their postseason hope. They host a rematch with the Wild on Saturday night.

With only four games remaining, the Stars are five points behind current wild-card spot holders St. Louis and Anaheim in the Western Conference standings. The Blues have six games left, and the Ducks play five more times. The Stars also trail ninth-place Colorado by four points, with five games to go for the Avalanche.

”Every mistake we made ended up in our net, and the chances we had we didn’t finish on,” Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said, adding: ”We’re going to compete at a very high level, and then the autopsy for us can take place.”

Devan Dubnyk stopped 29 shots for the Wild, who improved to 26-6-8 at home for the second-most points in the NHL. With five games to go, they’re up six points on the Avalanche in the race to clinch an appearance in the playoffs for the sixth straight year.

Dumba, who set a career high with his 12th goal on a blistering one-timer , and Zucker gave the Wild’s power play a badly needed boost. They had only one goal in their previous 26 opportunities until the sizzling second period. The Stars, meanwhile, were left shaking their heads about the opportunities they handed the Wild.

”I had a bonehead shot there on the penalty kill Rashaad Penny Color Rush Jersey ,” Seguin said, referring to the sequence before Zucker scored. ”I can’t shoot far-side short-handed, and they go down and score. That’s a tough play.”

NOTES

Dumba became the first Wild defenseman with four points in a game in franchise history. … Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who has missed the past seven games with a torn right hamstring, could start skating next week, Boudreau said before the game. Wild defenseman Gustav Olofsson left with an upper-body injury and was declared questionable to travel to Dallas. … The Stars fell to 2-23-2 when trailing after two periods. … Suter stretched his career high and franchise record to 45 assists. … Stars defenseman Stephen Johns was being evaluated for a concussion after leaving in the first period with the injury. … Zucker has three goals and two assists in three games against the Stars this season. … Granlund’s was the 10th short-handed goal allowed by the Stars to match the second-most in the league this season. … Granlund scored for the first time in 15 games since Feb. 27. … Seguin has 27 points in 23 games against the Wild. … Announced attendance was 19,350, the largest of the season for the Wild.

UP NEXT

Stars: After the rematch with Minnesota, Dallas must wrap up the schedule on the West Coast with games at San Jose, Anaheim and Los Angeles.

Wild: Following the quick trip to Dallas, Minnesota plays its final regular-season home game on Monday against Edmonton. Then the Wild finish the schedule with the same three California road games the Stars have, against the Ducks, Kings and Sharks.




The Pittsburgh Pirates, jockeying for first place in the National League Central the first several weeks of the season John Brown Jersey , go into a weekend series against Cincinnati looking at the possibility of spiraling into the cellar conversation with the Reds.

Pittsburgh (33-35) is eight games up on Cincinnati (25-43) but has fallen to fourth in the division and created some separation from the top three clubs by going 6-18 in its past 24 games.

The Reds come to PNC Park with a three-game winning streak.

Cincinnati right-hander Matt Harvey (1-4, 5.97 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Pirates right-hander Chad Kuhl (4-4, 3.95) on Friday.

Both teams had a day off Thursday.

The Pirates are coming off a 5-4 win on Wednesday at Arizona that concluded a 2-4 road trip. Friday’s game launches a 10-game, 10-day homestand.

They have been plagued in recent games by a plethora of problems, from defensive lapses to baserunning blunders, blown leads to offensive droughts.

“We’re going to get home and figure a lot of things out,” Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.

Shortstop Jordy Mercer, who was 7-for-17 with a homer and four RBIs on the road trip, believes the Pirates can turn things around.

“It’s the ebb and flow of the season,” he said. “You’re going to get into some of these situations where things don’t go your way.

“We’re able to relax a little bit now. We got a win. Hopefully, we can scratch another one out and roll with some momentum, especially at home with a 10-game homestand. Hopefully, we’ll get some momentum at home and carry it into the next road trip.”

The Reds are coming off a 7-0 win on Wednesday at Kansas City and are looking to get their rotation into a prolonged groove.

They have gotten back-to-back quality starts after going 15 games without one. During the winning streak, their rotation has a 1.40 ERA after ranking last in the major leagues with a 5.68 ERA.

“You get that Levine Toilolo Jersey , you’re going to win ballgames. You’re going to win your share anyway,” Cincinnati manager Jim Riggleman said of the recent improvement.

It falls on Harvey, who was acquired from the New York Mets on May 8 and will be making is seventh start with Cincinnati, to continue that. The Reds won in Harvey’s first three starts, then lost in his past three.

Last Friday, Harvey gave up three homers in his first three innings against St. Louis in a 7-6, 10-inning loss, then settled down in his subsequent three innings.

“That one had more well-thrown pitches than any of the games that he’s pitched … but the select few bad pitches he made really hurt him,” Riggleman said.

Harvey is 2-1 with a 4.76 ERA in six career starts against Pittsburgh.

Kuhl has allowed seven runs in his past four starts, totaling 23 1/3 innings. Most recently, he gave up three runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings last Friday in a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs.

In four career starts against the Reds, Kuhl is 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA.

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