Ducks-Stars Preview

Thanks in part to a red-hot rookie goaltender, the Anaheim Ducks

look like a vastly improved team from the one that flopped against

the Dallas Stars last season.

The visiting Ducks could start Victor Fasth in goal as they

search for a fifth straight victory Friday night in Dallas, where

they failed to solve Kari Lehtonen in their last two visits.

Anaheim (7-1-1) opened a six-game trip Wednesday with a 3-0

victory over Colorado. Fasth made 31 saves for his first shutout as

he lowered his goals-against average to an NHL-best 0.98.

“It’s nothing you go and think about. You just try to do your

best and help the team out as much as you can,” said the

30-year-old rookie, who was the Swedish Elite League’s goaltender

of the year the last two seasons. “I’m really glad I had (the

shutout). It’s a little bonus. Most important thing is we got the

win and started off this road trip really good.”

Fasth could be the difference Friday for the Ducks, who went

1-5-0 against the Stars (5-5-1) last season.

Lehtonen went 4-1-0 with a 1.40 GAA in the season series,

including shutouts in Anaheim’s last two trips to the American

Airlines Center.

While Lehtonen is a good bet to make his ninth start of the

season, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau has to choose between the

surging Fasth and Jonas Hiller, who is 3-1-1 with a 3.54 GAA.

Hiller has posted a 3.04 GAA in losing his last six starts

against Dallas. Fasth, meanwhile, is the first goalie to win his

first four starts since Nolan Schaefer did it for San Jose in

2005.

Boudreau has not named his starter for Friday.

“Hilly will be playing very soon,” Boudreau said. “He will be

doing the same thing, I hope.”

Boudreau has received strong recent production from defenseman

Sheldon Souray, who has three goals and an assist over a three-game

point streak. Souray signed with Anaheim as a free agent after he

had 21 points in 64 games for the Stars a season ago.

Saku Koivu also has four points (two goals, two assists) over

his last three games, and he thinks that the Ducks must

improve.

“We gave up too many 2-on-1s, 3-on-2s, probably more than we’ve

had in the last five games,” Koivu said.

Dallas is also unhappy with its play despite winning three of

four after Jaromir Jagr scored in overtime in Wednesday’s 3-2

victory at Edmonton.

“It’s definitely not pretty out there,” said Jamie Benn, who had

a goal and an assist. “We’re getting the job done right now but

we’ve got to get better as a team, do the right things, get pucks

deep.”

Benn led Dallas with eight points against Anaheim last season

while Michael Ryder and Alex Goligoski each tied for the team lead

with three goals.

Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne had a team-high five points in the

season series and Koivu a team-best three goals but Ryan Getzlaf

came up empty in the six games.

Getzlaf, with a goal and four assists, has one point in each of

his last five games.

Dallas has been short-handed a league-high 54 times. Anaheim

owns one of the NHL’s best power plays at 26.7 percent.