Dallas Stars: Anaheim Ducks

It's not very often that a No. 1 seed is beaten in the first round of the NHL playoffs, but it's not unprecedented, either. In fact, a No. 8 seed -- Los Angeles -- won the Stanley Cup a few years ago. So what do the Dallas Stars need to do to pull off the upset of the Anaheim Ducks? Here are five things they need to do:

1. Win the goaltending battle. It's odd that the Ducks are the top seed and have major questions in goal. Jonas Hiller was disappointing in the final month of the season, forcing coach Bruce Boudreau to go with his younger netminders in Frederik Andersen and John Gibson, who won all three of his starts with a .954 save percentage. Stars coach Lindy Ruff is betting Boudreau goes with Andersen because of how much Hiller has struggled. But that gives the advantage in nets to the Dallas Stars and goalie Kari Lehtonen. He's played well this season and is seeking redemption for his quick and rough playoff experience with Atlanta.

SportsNation

Which matchup are you most looking forward to watching tonight?

  •  
    42%
  •  
    17%
  •  
    41%

Discuss (Total votes: 4,894)

2. Utilize their speed and puck possession skills. The Stars annoy opponents because they are always on the go. If you're not ready to skate, the Stars will beat you. Dallas is the faster team and if the Stars can drive the tempo up and control the puck, something they are very good at doing, they can make things difficult on the Ducks. Ruff's style with this team is to grab the puck and create scoring chances. And with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on the top line, they have the ability to do that.

3. Get scoring from more than Benn and Seguin. Everyone in the NHL knows how good Benn and Seguin are, but the Stars also have a second line that can do some damage in Antoine Roussel, Cody Eakin and Ryan Garbutt. All three will be playing in the playoffs for the first time. How they respond will go a long way toward determining whether the Stars pull the upset. The trio has played well down the stretch in pressure games and they look ready.

4. Do the job on special teams. The two squads are fairly even on the power play and penalty kill, but if you look inside the numbers you'll find that the Stars did a better job in both categories in the last few weeks. The Stars finished 23rd on the power play (Anaheim is 22nd) and 21st on the penalty kill (Anaheim is 13th, but not much higher than Dallas on percentage), but that was not indicative of how they played when the games mattered most as the season wound down. The Stars moved the puck well on the power play and found shooting lanes and they were smart, but aggressive on the penalty kill. They'll have to do both in this series.

As an added part to No. 4, the Stars' defense, inconsistent this season, must avoid too many costly turnovers. That's area that's been an issue for this team.

5. Don't squint under the playoff lights. This is a new experience for 12 of the Stars' players. Lehtonen has just two playoff games to his name. How the club reacts to the pressure, especially early in the series, is critical. If Dallas can stay calm and competitive in the first 20 minutes on Wednesday, that could set an important tone for the rest of the series. Anaheim has been here before. The Stars haven't played a postseason game since 2008. They've got a new GM, coach, owner and a gaggle of new players since then. They can't let the newness of the experience overwhelm them.

Sheldon Souray signs with Anaheim Ducks

July, 2, 2012
7/02/12
1:02
PM CT
A year ago we spoke to veteran defenseman Sheldon Souray moments after he signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Stars. It was in many ways a career lifeline thrown to the embattled defenseman who’d run afoul of management in Edmonton and been banished to the American Hockey League before finally being bought out by the Oilers.

His pride dinged up and his reputation in question, Souray was a model citizen in Dallas, working with the Stars' young defensemen and providing some much needed snarl. While the Stars couldn’t quite get over the hump and into the playoffs last spring, Souray’s play reinforced that at age 36 the Elk Point, Alberta native can still bring it.

Fast-forward to this year and not only has Souray’s career been revived, in many ways the stars have aligned in a way that suggests he is ready for even better times as the twilight of his career approaches.

Souray, blessed with a big shot to go with his big 6-foot-4 frame, signed a three-year deal Sunday with the Anaheim Ducks that will pay him $11 million over the life of the deal, but beyond the money, he signed a deal that brings with it rare peace of mind.

After spending his whole career packing up and leaving his two children behind at the start of the season, he will remain a short car ride (depending on California traffic of course) away from his two daughters.

“As we’re all getting older, it’s just getting tougher to say goodbye,” Souray told ESPN.com Monday.

“It was getting harder and harder to be away from them.”

His one daughter will turn nine in late September and his other daughter is five. Having them close by will bring a comfort level that he hasn’t enjoyed in a long time and he believes it will translate into better play on the ice for a Ducks team that got bigger on the back end on the first day of free agency with the signing of Souray and Bryan Allen.

“I’ve always been a better player when they’re around. You’re just more complete,” Souray said. “There’s a peace of mind that comes with having them around.”

Souray, based in Malibu while his daughters live with their mother in Beverley Hills, regularly skates with California-based NHLers in the offseason, and he was already beginning to dread the annual routine of packing up and heading off to a new NHL hometown.

Now he can concentrate on helping a team that started poorly last year -- costing head coach Randy Carlyle his job -- before rebounding under coach Bruce Boudreau. Ultimately the Ducks fell short of the playoffs but there is optimism that it was an aberration for a team that won a Cup in 2007 and made the playoffs in five of the first six seasons after the lockout. Although Souray hasn’t played for Boudreau, he knows something of the former Washington head coach having played for the Caps’ American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey two seasons ago when the Oilers banished him from the organization.

All the staff and players in Hershey “raved about Bruce,” Souray said.

He’s also familiar with new Anaheim teammates Saku Koivu, having played with the former Montreal captain in Montreal, and Andrew Cogliano, who was acquired from the Oilers last July.

“It’s awesome,” Souray said of this new chapter in his hockey tale. “I think I can bring some of the X factors they have [been] searching for the last couple of years.”

Stars-Ducks photos

March, 11, 2012
3/11/12
10:31
AM CT
Here is a link to some photos of last night's Dallas Stars-Anaheim Ducks game. You can see all the photos by Shannon Byrne here or by clicking below on the image of Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 21 shots for his third shutout of the season.

#32 Kari LehtonenDallas Stars vs. Anaheim Ducks, March 10, 2012.



DALLAS -- Stars captain Brenden Morrow made an impact in his first game in more than a month, scoring a power play goal as the Dallas Stars ran their winning streak to five games and their points streak to ten with a 2-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks Saturday night at American Airlines Center.

“It feels good. I was a little nervous to make sure it didn’t screw things up with the way the team was playing and rolling,” Morrow said. “Kari (Lehtonen) made sure I didn’t do that sitting in the penalty box three times.”

Morrow, who had missed the last 18 games with back and neck issues, played 16:34, registering three hits and picking up six minutes in penalties during the game. He also provided an emotional boost.

“It’s huge,” said Stars forward Steve Ott. “He’s our leader, he’s our captain.”

The Stars got another stellar performance from Lehtonen, who stopped all 21 shots he faced for his third shutout of the season and his second in the last eight games. Lehtonen is 7-0-1 with a 1.45 goals against average and .950 save percentage in his last eight starts.

“The last three weeks we’ve been playing real solid and everybody has been helping me out. I’ve been trying to do the same. It’s just fun when you can get wins,” Lehtonen said. “With every win it gets more exciting. Guys are smiling and working hard. It’s just a great time of the year to be in it.”

The Stars were determined to get Lehtonen the shutout after the Stars goalie lost a shutout bid with 30 seconds remaining in a game at Edmonton last week.

“The best part of my day was when that buzzer rang and he got the shutout,” Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. “That guy deserves that and we owed him one.”

The victory kept the Stars three points ahead of Phoenix in the race for first place in the Pacific Division and the third seed in the Western Conference. The Stars have a six point lead over the ninth place spot in the standings.

Specials teams were key for the Stars, who were 1-4 on the power play and 4-4 on the penalty kill. During their ten game points streak the Stars have killed off 30 of 31 opposition power plays.

“That’s just commitment from those guys,” Gulutzan said of the Stars penalty killers.

The Stars scored at 2:37 of the second period, just one second after a 35 second five-on-three power play expired. Jamie Benn sent a pass across the crease to Morrow, who put the puck into the open side of the net.

“Those four-footers with an empty cage are pretty easy to hit some times," Morrow said. "Jamie Benn made a great play to hit me backdoor with an empty net.”

The Ducks had some power play time in the second period, but couldn’t cash in. One of those penalties was a boarding minor on Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas for a hit on Ducks forward Corey Perry, who played a couple shifts after the hit but eventually left the game. The hit didn’t sit well with Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau.

“If that wasn’t a five-minute penalty then I don’t know what is,” Boudreau said. “He’s in the most vulnerable position, head first going into the boards and he’s getting a shove. Whether it’s a big shove or a little shove, it’s a shove of a defenseless person into the boards. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that and you put your best player out in a game we had to win.”

The loss was a huge blow to the Ducks, whose chances of making the playoffs took another hit. They are eight points out of the final playoff spot with just 13 games remaining in the season.

“We are running out of time,” Boudreau said. “It’s not fun when you’re running out of time but it wasn’t for lack of effort. They’re giving it everything they’ve got right to the end and we’re really proud of their effort right now."

Michael Ryder rounded out the scoring for Dallas with an empty net goal with 46 seconds remaining to make it a 2-0 final and keep the Stars the hottest team in the NHL.

Notes

*Stars forward Radek Dvorak left the game in the third period with an ankle injury and did not return. There was no news on his status moving forward.

*Stars defenseman Sheldon Souray missed Saturday’s game with a lower body injury.

*Forwards Jake Dowell, Ryan Garbutt and Toby Petersen were healthy scratches for the Stars.

*Michael Ryder’s goal was his 30th of the season, tying his career high.

*Saturday’s attendance was 18.228
Here are some postgame quotes following the Dallas Stars’ 2-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks Saturday night at American Airlines Center.

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan

“Tonight wasn’t a Picasso, that’s what I told the guys – it was OK. To me, I thought our goalie looked like he wasn’t going to let anything in just looking at his body language. That gave us some confidence. I think we packed it in pretty tight around him as far as second shot opportunities. He made the ones he needed to.”

Gulutzan on Brenden Morrow’s first game back

“I thought early on he was getting his feet wet and then as he went he got better. Then he got in some penalty trouble, but what are you going to do. The puck went off his glove and over the glass. I thought it was a first good game for Brenden.”

Stars captain Brenden Morrow on his return

“It feels good. I was a little nervous to make sure it didn’t screw things up with the way the team was playing and rolling. Kari made sure I didn’t do that sitting in the penalty box three times.”

Morrow on his power play goal

“Those four-footers with an empty cage are pretty easy to hit some times. Jamie Benn made a great play to hit me backdoor with an empty net.”

Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen

“The last three weeks we’ve been playing real solid and everybody has been helping me out. I’ve been trying to do the same. It’s just fun when you can get wins. … With every win it gets more exciting. Guys are smiling and working hard. It’s just a great time of the year to be in it.”

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on the penalties against the Ducks

“The funny thing is if I say anything, it costs you $10,000. And if you don’t say anything, nothing gets done. It’s really a double-edged sword. I don’t know if anything gets done. I’d love to be able to get a report that says yes, it’s not good enough and this is the consequences but we never hear. If that penalty on Lehtonen by Getzlaf was a penalty, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. If the Corey penalty wasn’t a five-minute penalty then I don’t know what is. He’s in the most vulnerable position, head first going into the boards and he’s getting a shove. Whether it’s a big shove or a little shove, it’s a shove of a defenseless person into the boards. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard that and you put your best player out in a game we had to win. I don’t know, even the Brookbank penalty. There was two guys battling. Why did they chew their guy? They’ve both equally done the same thing. I could go on and on. I said it in LA and I’m now sounding like a whining, little crier. It’s not good enough.”

Boudreau’s on Stephane Robidas’ hit on Corey Perry

“Of course, any hit that’s into the boards for a defenseless person, isn’t that one of the criteria? Even if he didn’t extend his arms, he pushed him or if he didn’t, he held him and pushed him and held his arm to where he couldn’t protect himself. That Robidas guy does it every game and we tell him. He gets away with murder all the time. And then he says well, I didn’t try to or didn’t mean to. It’s not good enough.”

Stars keep rolling, down Ducks, 2-0

March, 10, 2012
3/10/12
7:45
PM CT
The Dallas Stars ran their winning streak to five games and their points streak to 10 games (9-0-1) with a 2-0 victory over the Anaheim Ducks at American Airlines Center Saturday night. Kari Lehtonen stopped 21 shots for his third shutout of the season and Brenden Morrow and Michael Ryder scored goals.

First period

The Ducks had an 8-6 shots advantage in the first period, but the Stars had some good chances. An Adam Burish backhand chance was turned away by Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller. The Anaheim goalie also made a nice stop on a point blank chance by Loui Eriksson. Steve Ott had a great chance from the left circle late in the period, but his shot hit the post.

There were no power plays in the period.

Second period

Special teams were big in the second period. The Stars went 1-3 on the power play and the Ducks went -0-2.

The Stars opened the scoring early in the second period, taking advantage of back-to-back penalties on the Ducks. Just as a 35 second five-on-three power play expired, Jamie Benn sent a cross-crease pass to Brenden Morrow who put the puck into the open side of the net at the 2:37 mark.

The Ducks had a couple of power play chances, but were unable to take advantage.

The Stars outshot the Ducks 9-6 in the second and had a 15-14 advantage going into the second intermission.

Third period

The Ducks had their third power play chance of the night five minutes into the third, but got only one shot on goal.

Lehtonen had a nice stop later in the period on a Niklas Hagman close range bid with the two teams playing at even-strength.

The Ducks went on a fourth power play with 5:16 remaining, but it lasted only five seconds as Teemu Selanne was called for holding on the right off the faceoff.

Hiller kept the Ducks close, making great stops on Loui Eriksson, Vernon Fiddler and Eric Nystrom, but with Hiller out for the extra attacker Michael Ryder scored into the empty net with 46 seconds left to give the Stars a 2-0 lead.

Stars lineup

Eriksson-Ribeiro-Ryder
Morrow-Benn-Ott
Nystrom-Fiddler-Dvorak
Vincour-Wandell-Burish

Fistric-Robidas
Goligoski-Larsen
Daley-Pardy

Lehtonen (starter)
Bachman

Injured: Souray (lower body)
Scratched: Petersen, Dowell, Garbutt

Brenden Morrow, Steve Ott both in tonight

March, 10, 2012
3/10/12
12:27
PM CT
DALLAS -- Brenden Morrow and Steve Ott both will be in the lineup tonight when the Dallas Stars take on the Anaheim Ducks at American Airlines Center.

Morrow has missed the last 18 games with neck and back issues. He's expected to play on a line with Ott and Jamie Benn, and Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said they'll ease Morrow back into things.

"We're going to manage his minutes," Gulutzan said. "Probably between 10 and 12, or 10 and 14, somewhere in there for the first game in five-and-a-half weeks."

Ott missed the last game with back spasms, but said he felt fine after going through Saturday morning's skate.

"It feels good," Ott said. "I finally got it to loosen up with a lot of rehab over the past couple days."

With Ott and Morrow both returning, the Stars will have to scratch three forwards. Gulutzan said Toby Petersen will be one of the scratches, but the others would be game-time decisions.

With Sheldon Souray out with a lower body injury, Adam Pardy will be back in the lineup. He's expected to be paired with Philip Larsen. The other defensive pairings will be Alex Goligoski-Stephane Robidas and Mark Fistric-Trevor Daley.

Kari Lehtonen is in goal tonight.

Stars-Ducks Preview

March, 9, 2012
3/09/12
11:01
PM CT
Anaheim Ducks at Dallas Stars
Saturday March 10
7:00 p.m.
TV: TXA 21
Radio: KTCK-1310 (AM)

About the Stars

The Stars (37-26-5) ran their winning streak to four games and their points streak to nine (8-0-1) with a 4-3 win over San Jose Thursday night. Tomas Vincour scored the game-tying goal with 1:15 remaining and scored the lone goal of the shootout. Kari Lehtonen made 45 saves and stopped five of five shots in the shootout.

“A game is 60 minutes and we showed it tonight. We battled to the end,” said Vincour. “We’re having fun, it’s huge, we’re playing for each other and that’s the best feeling you can have when you’re playing hockey.”

The Stars activated Brenden Morrow, who has missed the last 18 games with neck/back issues, from injured reserve Friday. Morrow is questionable for Saturday.

Lehtonen will start in goal for the Stars Saturday.

Injuries: LW Brenden Morrow (neck/back) and LW Steve Ott (back) are questionable. D Sheldon Souray (lower body) is out.

About the Ducks

The Ducks (29-29-10) lost 3-1 at St. Louis Thursday. It was the fourth loss in the last six games for the Ducks, whose hopes for the making the playoffs are fading away.

“Obviously the next two are going to be the biggest games of the season,” Ducks forward Teemu Selanne told the Orange County Register. “We all know that. We all know what the number is going to be to make the playoffs and how many we can lose and how many we got to win. But we keep fighting.”

Ducks forward Nick Bonino was injured in Thursday’s game. Anaheim recalled F recalled Ryan O'Marra from Syracuse of the AHL on Friday.

Injuries: F Nick Bonino (lower body) is questionable. G Dan Ellis (groin) is out.

Series notes

*This is the sixth and final meeting between the two teams.

*The Stars are 4-1-0 in the season series.

*The Ducks are 1-4-0 in the season series.

*October 21, at Anaheim: Stars 3, Ducks 1
*December 19, at Dallas: Stars 5, Ducks 3
*January 10, at Anaheim: Ducks 5, Stars 2
*January 24, at Dallas: Stars 1, Ducks 0
*February 1, at Anaheim: Stars 6, Ducks 2

Statistical tidbits

*The Stars’ nine game points streak is their longest since 2005-06, when they went 8-0-1 from Jan. 23 to Feb. 9.

*The Stars are 3-0-1 in their last four home games.

*The Ducks have lost three straight on the road.

*The Stars are 26-27 (96.3%) on the penalty kill during their nine game points streak.

*The Ducks are 1-15 (6.7%) on the power play over the last five games.

*Michael Ryder is on an eight- game points streak (6 goals, 4 assists).

*Ducks forward Corey Perry has four goals over the last four games.


Playoff race watch: Colorado lurks

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
9:22
AM CT
With the point they picked up in last night’s shootout loss to the Penguins, the Stars are one point ahead of Colorado and Los Angeles in the race for the final playoff spot in the West.

Colorado, which has won four games in a row, has a chance to move into eighth place Thursday with a win over Columbus in Denver. Even if the Avs do move into eighth, the Stars will have a game in hand.

The Stars lost ground to Chicago, which moved into sixth place with a 5-4 win over Toronto. The Blackhawks have a four-point lead over the Stars.

San Jose is in seventh place, two points ahead of the Stars. The Sharks, who have two games in hand on the Stars and three on Chicago, host Buffalo tonight.

Calgary plays at Phoenix. The Flames are four points out of eighth and have a game in hand. The Flames, 0-2-2 in their last four games, could use the two points in a big way.

The Ducks lost to Buffalo last night. That’s a pretty big blow to the Ducks’ already slim chances. They are seven points out, have a bunch of teams to climb over and only 18 games to do it.

Game of the night is St. Louis at Vancouver. The Blues can take over the first overall in the Western Conference with a win over the currently top seeded Canucks.

Sunday playoff race watch

February, 26, 2012
2/26/12
9:23
AM CT
Everybody in the race for the final spot that played last night picked up points last night, so the battle for eighth remains very tight one day before the trade deadline.

The Stars are tied with the Kings and Avalanche at 68 points, but still hold down that final spot because of the tiebreakers.

The Kings, who beat Chicago 4-0 yesterday, and Stars have played the same number of games, but the Stars own the regulation/overtime wins tiebreaker over them.

The Avalanche, who won 4-3 at Detroit Saturday, have played one more game than both the Stars and Kings, so they currently rank tenth because they have the lower points percentage.

Calgary blew a 3-0 for the second straight game, this time against Philadelphia, and lost in a shootout. They are now one point back and rank 11th.

Phoenix won again and is now 10-0-1 in its last 11 games. The Coyotes are the Pacific Division leaders this morning. They are two points ahead of San Jose, which lost 6-2 at Nashville yesterday. The Sharks have two games in hand, and play one of those games at Minnesota today.

The Wild need a win keep pace in the race. So does Anaheim, which hosts Chicago today.

Playoff watch: Stars within striking distance

February, 23, 2012
2/23/12
9:21
AM CT
Thursday is an opportunity for the Stars to gain ground in the Western Conference playoff race. If they win and Calgary loses against Phoenix, they’ll be in eighth place. If they win and Calgary wins, then they’ll be within one point of that final spot.

Of course, they have to win against a Chicago team that seems to have gotten its act together after going through a nine-game winless streak. The Blackhawks have won four in a row.

Tonight’s an opportunity for the Flames and Coyotes as well. The Flames have a shot to move back into the top eight. The Coyotes can put more distance between themselves and eighth place and keep the pressure on the Sharks, whom they are chasing for the Pacific Division lead and the third overall seed.

The game of the night in the West has to Vancouver at Detroit. The Red Wings and Canucks are battling for the top spot in the West and Detroit’s 23-game home winning streak is on the line.

St. Louis plays at Nashville tonight. The Predators are trying to hunt down the Blues for fourth overall in the West and home ice in the first round.

Last night, Colorado defeated Los Angeles 4-1 in Denver. The Kings, who blew a 3-0 lead against Phoenix Tuesday night and lost in a shootout, are slumping. They are 0-3-1 in their last four and 2-6-2 over their last ten.


The picture can brighten with a win tonight

February, 19, 2012
2/19/12
11:15
AM CT
Tonight’s game against Nashville would be a good one for the Stars to get over that second game of back-to-backs hump. A win over the Predators and things don’t look so bad for the Stars when it comes to the playoff race. They’d be one point out with 23 games to go.

The Stars have had games in hand on a lot of the teams they are battling with a spot, and tonight’s game is that final game in hand. It will give them 59 games played, the same Phoenix, Calgary and Los Angeles. They'll still have one on Colorado.

As with all games in hand, they don’t mean much unless you do something with them. A win and the Stars are one point back, and they’ve picked up two points from where they were they came out of the break. Maybe not everything they were hoping, but still some ground gained. It's not a sprint to the end, it's a marathon.

If it’s a regulation loss then they have squandered those games in hand, but it's far from fatal.

As up and down and as frustrating as the Stars have been coming out of the break, they aren’t operating in a vacuum. There are things going on around them that have an effect on the race.

A couple of teams – Phoenix and Calgary – have gone on nice runs since the All-Star break and pulled into playoff spots. But it’s not like they are in a comfortable position. The Kings have slipped, missed an opportunity to give themselves some breathing room in the race and are now in a real fight for a playoff spot. Colorado had played more games than everybody else at the break, so they've lost ground by playing .500 hockey but are still around it. The Wild have tanked and are falling out of the picture.

Sixth-seeded Chicago has slipped and is now looking over its shoulder at the Coyotes and Flames. Anaheim, currently in 13th, has put together a great run, but the hill looks pretty steep. A lot of teams to climb over and everybody can't lose.

The bottom line is the Stars are still right in the thick of things, and the picture can brighten with a couple points tonight.

Here’s a look at how teams ranked 7th through 12th in the Western Conference playoff race have fared since the break.

Big points at stake for Stars

February, 16, 2012
2/16/12
8:00
AM CT
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but the Anaheim Ducks have climbed back into the playoff picture. The Ducks won 2-1 at Pittsburgh last night to improve to 14-2-3 over their last 19 games. They are now just two points behind the Stars and six points behind Phoenix for eighth place in the West.

If it weren’t for the Stars, the Ducks would be even closer. The two regulation losses the Ducks have suffered during their remarkable run both have been to the Stars.

As for the Stars, the Ducks aren’t their big concern right now. These next two games are. They play two teams ahead of them of them in the standings -- ninth-seeded Calgary tonight at the American Airlines Center and then at Phoenix on Saturday.

The Coyotes and Flames are where they are right now because they’ve been able to get on runs. Phoenix is 5-1-1 since the All-Star break, including 5-0-1 in its last six games. They Flames are 4-1-2 since the break and 4-0-2 over their last six games.

The Stars are where they are right now -- 11th in the West and four points out of a playoff spot -- because they’ve struggled out of the break. They are 3-4-1, including 1-3-1 over their last five games.

These are big points against teams the Stars are chasing in the playoff race. With the Feb. 27 trade deadline getting closer, these games could help determine which way Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk leans when it comes to making any moves.

Thursday tidbits: Back-to-back efforts

February, 2, 2012
2/02/12
9:04
AM CT


A few tidbits for your Thursday morning.

*With last night's win over the Ducks, the Stars improved to 4-4-2 in the first games of back-to-back sets this season. As has been mentioned often, it's the second game that's been the big issue. They are 0-7-1 in those games so far this season. Here's a look at how the Stars have fared in back-to-backs in 2011-12.



*A power play note from last night's game. Defenseman Sheldon Souray, who has been averaging 2:24 of power play time per game this season, didn't see any PP time last night. The Stars went with blue line combinations of Alex Goligoski-Stephane Robidas and Trevor Daley-Philip Larsen last night. They give up the big cannon, but that's a pretty mobile group on the blue line.

*The Los Angeles Kings beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 last night on a power play goal by Drew Doughty with 0.4 seconds remaining in regulation. Video replays below show that the game clock stopped briefly at 1.8 seconds, restarted and then Doughty scores.

Here's an excerpt from the NHL.com recap:
Columbus' Samuel Pahlsson took a hooking penalty with 1:06 left in regulation, and the Kings buzzed away in the Jackets' zone. Curtis Sanford made a pair of stops in the final eight seconds on Anze Kopitar, and with time running out the puck came to Doughty, whose snap shot through traffic barely beat the final horn. Referee Steven Walkom originally waved off the goal, but video replay showed the puck crossed the goal line with less than a second to play -- though television replays indicated that the game clock stopped briefly with 1.8 seconds remaining before starting again.

Here's the video. Watch the clock when it hits 1.8 seconds.

Stars start strong out of break, rout Ducks

February, 2, 2012
2/02/12
1:22
AM CT


The Dallas Stars were looking for a strong start coming out of the All-Star break and they got it Wednesday night in Anaheim, routing the Ducks 6-2 at Honda Center.

The victory lifted the Stars (26-21-2) to within one point of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

“We have to keep moving forward like this if we want to make the playoffs,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas, who scored a power play goal and led Dallas with eight hits.

Six different players scored goals for the Stars, who had scored two goals or fewer in their last six games.

“We’ve had trouble scoring goals lately, but we’ve got our guys back in the lineup and we’re more healthy,” said Robidas. “A lot of our goals were shots and traffic and rebounds. It wasn’t all like tic-tac-toes. We’ve got to keep things simple and play well defensively. I think there are some corrections that need to be made in that regard, but overall we are pleased with the effort and obviously we are very happy with the win.”

Center Jamie Benn, who had missed the last five games due to an appendectomy, had one goal and two assists in the game, as did Michael Ryder. Robidas, Eric Nystrom, Vernon Fiddler and Sheldon Souray also scored for the Stars, who scored six goals in regulation for the third time this season.

“We were a little more in an offensive mode. We were thinking a little more about scoring,” said Souray. “In the last game (1-0 win over Anaheim) we were just wanting to keep it close and get comfortable in close game.”

The Stars got a stellar performance from goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 33 of 35 shots. He came up big early in the game when the Stars were still shaking off a little bit of the rust from the break, and was solid throughout.

Special teams were big for the Stars as well. The power play, which had been struggling prior to the break, was 1-3. The penalty kill was 4-4.

The Stars, who fell behind early, took control of the game with three goals in a 3:54 span late in the first period, turning a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead heading into the first intermission.

Eric Nystrom knocked home the rebound of an Alex Goligoski shot from the left point to tie the game. Vernon Fiddler won a puck battle against Anaheim defenseman Luca Sbisa in the neutral zone, slipped by Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky in the slot and then beat Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller five-hole to the give the Stars a 2-1 lead. Benn scored on a breakaway following an Anaheim turnover to make it a 3-1 game.

Stephane Robidas scored on the power play to make it a 4-1 game in the second. Sbisa scored for the Ducks to cut the lead to 4-2 a little more than a minute later, but Sheldon Souray and Michael Ryder scored third period goals for the Stars to put the Ducks away.

Anaheim, which entered the game on a 9-1-1 run, had a six-game home winning streak snapped.

“We played bad tonight,” Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It wasn’t fun to watch.”

For the Stars, it was a step in the right direction as they try to climb into the top eight in the Western Conference.

“It’s little steps. There are some building blocks to build from,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “Was our game clean? By no means, but it can get better. That’s what we have to do, but we’ll take the points and use that as a stepping stone.”

Notes

*Defenseman Nicklas Grossman did not play Wednesday due to the flu. He could play Thursday.

*Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said Richard Bachman would start Thursday’s game in San Jose.

*Adam Pardy and Toby Petersen were healthy scratches Wednesday.

*Sheldon Souray scored his first goal since November 4.

*Stephane Robidas scored his first since November 6.

SPONSORED HEADLINES