Ducks-Stars Preview

This upcoming stretch for the Dallas Stars could feel like the

postseason for more than one reason.

The Stars and Anaheim Ducks meet three straight times over the

next five nights to complete their season series, beginning with

Monday’s matchup in Dallas.

These Pacific Division rivals will get well acquainted with each

other this week, with meetings also set for Wednesday and Friday in

Anaheim. But while the Ducks (23-7-5) are cruising with an

eight-point lead atop the division for the No. 2 seed in the

Western Conference, the Stars (16-15-3) are in a three-way tie for

the 10th-highest point total in the conference with 35 – two out of

a playoff spot.

“It’s like a mini-playoff series,” Dallas center Jamie Benn

said. “We know what they’re all about. They’ve obviously a good

team, they’re having a good season.”

The Stars have gone 5-0-2 in their last seven home meetings with

the Ducks, with low-scoring affairs in both this season. Loui

Eriksson had a goal and an assist in a 3-1 victory Feb. 8 while the

Ducks won 2-1 in a shootout March 14.

The last matchup did not feature Benn or Ducks star Corey Perry.

Benn was out with a wrist injury while Perry was serving a

four-game suspension for a hit on Minnesota’s Jason Zucker.

Benn enters with seven points in his last five games, but the

Stars are looking to regroup after being outshot 40-15 in Sunday’s

3-2 home loss to Los Angeles.

“We’re fighting for our lives here,” coach Glen Gulutzan said.

“After an embarrassing outing in front of our home fans like that,

we better come out hard tomorrow.”

Kari Lehtonen, who is 7-1-3 with a 1.88 goals-against average in

his last 11 starts against Anaheim, was a lone bright spot versus

the Kings with 37 saves.

“We just got to find a way to help our goalie, he can’t stop

everything,” defenseman Stephane Robidas said. “It could have been

pretty ugly if he had an off game.”

Anaheim fell for the fifth time in six games with Sunday’s 2-1

shootout loss at Columbus despite outshooting the Blue Jackets

30-18.

“We play well and we keep pushing and pushing and we’re missing

opportunities,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I mean, they’re right

in front of the net.”

Rookie Emerson Etem’s third-period goal was all the Ducks

mustered. They have scored eight goals over their last six games,

are in a 1-for-23 slump on the power play and have gone 0 for 19

with the man advantage in their last six contests against the

Stars.

“We’re really struggling scoring goals right now and our power

play isn’t coming around,” Boudreau said.

Ducks top scorer Ryan Getzlaf has no points in his last eight

games against the Stars, with no goals in his last 13 on the road

in the series. Perry has no goals and two assists in his last six

against Dallas.

Jonas Hiller made 16 saves Sunday for the Ducks, but Viktor

Fasth could receive his first career start against Dallas.

The NHL’s oldest skaters will be on display as 42-year-old Teemu

Selanne of Anaheim and 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr of Dallas take the

ice. Neither has a point in the season series.