The Anaheim Ducks and the Dallas Stars both got off to disappointing starts, but only one of the Pacific Division rivals appears to be turning its season around.
The Ducks go for their third straight win while the Stars look to avoid their fourth consecutive loss when the teams meet at the Honda Center on Monday.
After finishing last season with the best record in franchise history en route to winning their first Stanley Cup, the Ducks (6-7-2) got off to a middling start in 2007-08. Since losing three straight games Oct. 20-25, however, they've shown signs of improvement.
Anaheim is 2-0-1 in its last three games, and a 5-2 victory over Phoenix on Saturday gave the Ducks their second pair of back-to-back wins this season. Corey Perry had two goals and an assist as the Ducks recorded their first road win.
The Ducks also got a boost from defenseman Mathieu Schneider, who had a goal and two assists for his first points of the season. It was his second game back after missing the first month of the season with an ankle injury.
"(Schneider) plays to his strengths, and we saw that," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "He can play on the point on the power play, kill penalties, and lead by example. It's our responsibility as coaches to put him in a position to make contributions, and he also has to commit to the mandate."
Schneider, a 19-year veteran, has 10 goals in 47 career games against the Stars. His 29 assists against them match his most against any team.
That's bad news for a Dallas defense that has struggled lately. The Stars (5-6-2) were outscored 14-6 in losing all three games of their last homestand, which ended with a 5-0 loss to Phoenix on Friday night.
The Stars, who have given up five goals in back-to-back games, haven't lost four straight games in regulation since a five-game skid Nov. 30-Dec. 10, 2003.
"You go 0-for-3 at home, that's rock-bottom for us," Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. "This is some of the worst hockey I've seen from this team in a very long time. The panic button hasn't been hit but the time is now to nip this and move forward."
Stars forward Mike Modano was held scoreless in the final two games of the homestand. With 1,231 career points, he remains one short of matching Phil Housley's record for U.S.-born players. The Stars insist that the record hasn't been a distraction during their current slump.
"We all want him to get it and me on, but it's not a distraction," defenseman Philippe Boucher said. "We just have to do everything better, from effort to competing to focus. We're getting what we deserve right now."
Dallas won its first meeting with Anaheim 3-1 at home on Oct. 20. Morrow scored a power-play goal in that game, and has six goals and six assists in 13 games against the Ducks since the beginning of the 2005-06 season.
The Stars, though, have gone 0-2-1 in their last three games at the Honda Center, where the Ducks are 5-2-1 this season.
Anaheim goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere is 9-13-2 with one tie and a 2.78 goals-against average in 25 career games against the Stars.
Dallas' Marty Turco, meanwhile, is 14-6-2 with three ties and a 2.15 GAA in 27 games against the Ducks.
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