Ducks aim for more against Stars
STARS (25-21-2) at DUCKS (19-23-7)
: NHLN-CA, FS-Southwest+, KDOC (HD)
: Dallas 4-5-1; Anaheim 8-1-1.
: Dallas owns a 3-1 edge in the season series, including a 1-0 win on the Tuesday before the All-Star break. Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen shut down a resurgent Anaheim offense, recording 27 saves for his first shutout of the season.
: Wednesday's rematch in Anaheim will be a litmus test for both the Ducks and Stars. The Stars will see whether last Tuesday’s 1-0 victory – which snapped a five-game skid – was a fluke or for real.
Anaheim broke up the home-and-home with a 4-1 win in Phoenix Tuesday night, and will be eager to prove the last matchup was a minor blip on an otherwise red-hot run.
: While Dallas benefited from the full two points for the first time in six outings this past Tuesday, it is still in search of consistent scoring. Over that six-game stretch, Dallas managed just seven goals. The lone goal Tuesday came off a defenseman deflection, and the Stars have suffered lately with injuries to second- and third-leading scorers Jamie Benn and Mike Ribeiro. Captain Brenden Morrow and defenseman Stephane Robidas were also nursing nagging injuries.
The All-Star break doesn't heal all wounds, but it certainly healed Dallas. Benn – Dallas' lone All-Star – is back from an emergency appendectomy, and Ribeiro skated 20:55 against Anaheim, his first action since suffering an MCL injury on Jan. 7. Morrow was activated from the injured reserve over the break, and Robidas looks to be back to 100 percent. All are exciting developments for coach Glen Gulutzan.
"We think that our best games are ahead of us. We are healthy and in a position to do it. Now it just has to get done," Gulutzan told the Stars' website Monday. "We have to work to get it done, but we're healthy and ready to go."
: Anaheim got back to winning ways on Tuesday, as Andrew Cogliano
erased a first-period deficit with a natural hat trick over seven minutes – the first trick of his career. Coach Bruce Boudreau called it maybe "the ugliest hat trick I've ever seen," but it helped Anaheim kick off the second half of the season on the right track. Now the Ducks head home for a four-game stretch of very winnable games. With their recent 9-1-1 run, the playoffs aren't completely out of the question for the 13th-place Ducks. But Anaheim must maintain a similarly torrid pace if it hopes to close the 12-point gap that stands between it and eighth position.
: Offense is not the only area of note for Anaheim. Over his last nine starts, Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller
is 7-1-1 with a shutout. He has not allowed more than two goals in that stretch.
: For Anaheim, winger Matt Beleskey
made his return from a three-game absence Tuesday and notched an assist. Goalie Dan Ellis
(groin) will miss a couple more weeks. Devante Smith-Pelly
is back in Canada rehabbing a foot injury he sustained in December’s World Junior Championships.
: This recent scoring drought is not uncharacteristic of Dallas, which is in the League's bottom half for total goals (123) and goals per game (2.56). That means they will have to once again shut down Anaheim’s offense, a lofty goal considering the Ducks have scored 40 goals over their current 11-game stretch.
: "I was just trying to shoot everything after that - you never know. I caught Smith off-guard with a couple shots. Those won't go in every night, but for myself I need to shoot more. You can't have a better example of that." – Anaheim forward Andrew Cogliano on his first career hat trick