Ducks: Two good reasons to beat the Stars

April, 3, 2011
4/03/11
2:13
PM PT
Ducks (44-29-5, 93 points) vs. Dallas Stars (38-28-11, 87) at Honda Center, 5 p.m.

Five storylines to track:

1. It’s about time: Since the Ducks were founded before the 1993-94 season, they've never qualified for the playoffs in the same year as the Kings, but both can clinch postseason berths tonight with a regulation victory by seventh-place Anaheim. The eighth-place Blackhawks (92 points) and ninth-place Flames (89 points) also play this afternoon, so a loss by the Ducks and victories by their closest pursuers will make for an interesting final week of the regular season.

2. Where’s Lubo? Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky left Saturday night’s game in San Jose with an upper-body injury. It appeared his was favoring his right shoulder after getting checked into the boards by big-bodied Douglas Murray with about eight minutes left in the 4-2 loss. The Ducks can ill afford to lose Visnovsky, who scored his 17th goal of the season earlier in the San Jose game to set a franchise record for goals by a defenseman.

3. Close calls: The Ducks and Stars will be meeting for the third time in less than a month and little has separated the teams in the previous two games. Visnovsky ended the first by scoring an overtime goal with just four seconds left after Teemu Selanne had tied it with just over a minute left in regulation. Cam Fowler won the second game in overtime after Selanne tied it with seven seconds left in regulation.

4. Emery honored: Ducks goalkeeper Ray Emery is coming off his first loss in an Anaheim uniform but against the Sharks he was mostly hung out to dry by his defensive unit. Emery won his first six games as a starter for the Ducks, earning a nomination for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is annually presented to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The winner will be selected at the end of the regular season.

5. Falling Stars: It was just four weeks ago that the Stars were defeating the Kings, 4-3, in overtime at Staples Center to conclude a four-game trip with a 3-0-1 record and move into fifth in the Western Conference standings. The Stars have since gone 2-5-4 to fall into 10th in the West. They are 0-3-1 heading into the final game of their season-long five-game road trip. The good news is Brad Richards finally scored a goal Saturday afternoon, ending a seven-game goal-less streak.

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