Ducks-Stars Preview

On the verge of their longest point streak in eight seasons, the

red hot Dallas Stars aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.

That doesn’t bode well for an Anaheim Ducks team that’s already

struggled to keep up with the Stars.

Hoping to extend its run, Dallas tries for a sixth win in seven

meetings with visiting Anaheim as the Pacific Division rivals

conclude their season series Saturday night.

Dallas (37-26-5), which was nine points out of first nearly a

month ago, has since climbed its way to the top of the division

behind an 8-0-1 run. The Stars have outscored teams 29-15 and

killed all but one of their 27 penalties over that stretch.

Despite its recent surge, Dallas has only a slim lead over

Phoenix, San Jose and Los Angeles, with Anaheim (29-29-10) bringing

up the rear. The Stars haven’t recorded points in 10 straight games

since going 9-0-0 with three ties Dec. 27-Jan. 22, 2003.

“It’s so tight and every game is important. That’s what we’ve

been doing lately-playing for each other and playing really hard,”

right winger Loui Eriksson, who leads the team with 61 points, told

the Stars’ official website.

“We’ve been getting some big wins. It’s always nice when you’re

winning as a team. That always helps too, when you play with that

confidence. That’s what we’re doing now.”

After All-Star center Jamie Benn tied the score early in the

third period, relatively unknown Tomas Vincour sent Thursday’s game

into overtime before notching the shootout’s lone goal in a 4-3 win

over the Sharks.

“It feels great. That’s a huge two points for us. It doesn’t

matter who scores the goal,” said Vincour, who had scored just four

goals in his previous 59 career games. “Now is the time to get two

points every night and every goal is huge for us. I’m happy I could

score for us but it doesn’t matter who scores.”

Dallas’ recent success surely doesn’t surprise Anaheim, which

has experienced plenty of difficulty in this series of late.

Coach Glen Gulutzan’s team improved to 4-1-0 against the Ducks

this season with a 6-2 road win Feb. 1. The Stars have also gone

6-1-1 in their last eight home matchups in the series.

Anaheim opened a three-game trip Thursday with its fourth loss

in six games, falling 3-1 at St. Louis. The Ducks took a 1-0 lead

on Corey Perry’s 34th goal but couldn’t contain the Blues, who

scored twice on four chances on the man advantage.

“Five-on-five, we were just as good as they were,” coach Bruce

Boudreau said. “But the special teams, which have been our Achilles

heel for the last month, snuck up on us again and killed us.”

Jonas Hiller made 24 saves, dropping to 0-3-0 with a 3.40

goals-against average over his last three road starts. Hiller, who

has allowed a combined 15 goals in four losses to the Stars this

season, is 2-7-1 with a 3.11 GAA in his last 10 games in the

series.

He’ll look to slow down forward Michael Ryder, who’s tallied six

goals and four assists over an eight-game point streak. Ryder

posted a goal and two assists Feb. 1, giving him six and six,

respectively, in 12 career matchups with the Ducks.

Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen made a season-high 45 saves Thursday,

improving to 6-0-1 with a 1.65 GAA in his last seven games. He’s

won four of five versus the Ducks while posting a 2.00 GAA.

Brenden Morrow was activated from injured reserve Friday

following an 18-game absence due to an upper-body injury. He’s

listed as questionable for Saturday.