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Two teams struggling to overcome injuries to their franchise players will meet on Thursday at the American Airlines Center as the Anaheim Ducks visit the Dallas Stars.
The Ducks (29-9-7) have lost five of six games since goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere suffered a groin injury on Dec. 26. Tuesday's 5-4 overtime defeat at Nashville in a matchup of the Western Conference's top teams was Anaheim's fourth straight road loss.
Despite the Ducks' recent woes, no team in the NHL has more points.
Giguere had been the focal point of Anaheim's impressive first half of the season, though it is uncertain when he will return. He is 23-4-5 for an NHL-leading .797 win percentage and has a 2.17 goals-against average in 34 appearances this season.
Without him, the Ducks are mired in their longest road losing streak since dropping seven straight from Oct. 8-Nov. 12, 2005.
Playing without center Mike Modano for the past 17 games might have caught up to the Stars (26-17-1). Although they are 8-8-1 since the center suffered a hip flexor injury on Dec. 4, Dallas has lost two straight and four of its last five.
The Stars fell 5-2 at home to Phoenix on Wednesday, matching their most lopsided loss of the season. Dallas is hoping to avoid tying a season high with its third consecutive loss on Thursday.
Modano is not expected to return until after the All-Star break for Dallas, which has failed to score more than three goals in four of its last five games. Before suffering the injury, Modano led the team in goals (10) and points (20).
The Ducks missed Giguere's presence on Tuesday, when Ilya Bryzgalov fell to 1-2-1 with a 3.24 GAA in his four starts since returning from a 12-game absence because of a slight groin strain.
Bryzgalov allowed three goals on 13 first-period shots as the Stars entered the second period with a 3-1 deficit. Bryzgalov allowed Steve Sullivan to score 3:12 into overtime.
"It might have been the worst first period we played all season," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "We clawed our way back into it, but we weren't sharp as a group."
However, Carlyle's team did outshoot Nashville 24-11 after the opening period while rallying to force overtime. Teemu Selanne's team-leading 25th goal of the season tied the game at 4 late in the second period.
"It's better than no points," said Anaheim forward Todd Marchant, who played after missing the past six games with an abdominal strain. "We have to look at this game and learn from our mistakes and build and get better next game against Dallas on Thursday."
The Ducks also are missing defensemen Chris Pronger (fractured foot) and Francois Beauchemin (spleen).
The Stars opened a four-game homestand with the loss to Phoenix after allowing two unanswered second-period goals on power plays to trail 3-1. The four goals goaltender Marty Turco allowed - on 27 shots - tied a season high.
"Getting those two power-play goals was a big difference for them," said Stars right wing Eric Lindros, who returned after missing seven straight games due to injured ribs. "We need to find ways to score and consistently do that."
The Stars are 5-for-12 on the power play over their last three games. Anaheim has allowed two goals in 19 short-handed situations in its last three outings.
Dallas missed forwards Brenden Morrow (wrist) and Steve Ott (ankle) for the entire game Tuesday and defenseman Darryl Sydor for the final two periods because of an upper-body injury. It's unclear if any of them will play Thursday.
Turco is 12-4-1 with three ties and a 2.01 goals-against average in 22 career appearances against Dallas.
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