The NHL will pause its season on Wednesday, two days before its planned Christmas break, the league announced Monday evening.

Playing in Dallas, the Minnesota Wild (19-9-2) who are in first place in the NHL Western Conference saw the Dallas Stars (15-12-2) score on their first two shots Monday night. The Wild would later get two of their own in the first period but the Stars would continue to dominate the game-winning 7-4.

All NHL team facilities will be closed from Wednesday through Saturday as the league tries to weather several COVID-19 outbreaks. Players are set to report back to team facilities on Sunday and resume daily testing. The NHL schedule is set to resume on December 27.

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The decision left just three games on the NHL slate before the break: Monday's game between the Dallas Stars and Minnesota Wild, Tuesday's matchup between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers, and Tuesday's game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights.

It has been a challenging week for the NHL, as 11 teams have suspended operations and the league postponed all games through Christmas that involved cross-border travel between Canada and the U.S. More than 15% of the league's players were in virus protocols as of Monday night.

The NHL reintroduced stricter protocols this week for players, including daily testing (instead of once every three days), social distancing measures, and restrictions on where players can go when they are not at home, the hotel, or the rink.

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