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The Anaheim Ducks need one victory to secure the first division title in franchise history. Clinching it with a win over the Dallas Stars would make it that much sweeter.
The Ducks hope to wrap up the Pacific Division and one of the top three seeds in the Western Conference on Friday night when they visit the Stars.
Anaheim (47-20-13) is one point ahead of San Jose and four in front of Dallas (48-25-7) in the Pacific with two games remaining. Any combination of two points in those contests will give the Ducks the division title and ensure them of home ice in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Ducks, who conclude the regular season Saturday at Columbus, already have set franchise records for wins and points. They had a three-game win streak snapped Thursday with a 3-2 shootout loss to visiting San Jose.
An illegal stick penalty on Anaheim's Teemu Selanne negated a Ducks' power play at the start of overtime, and the Sharks went on to win in the shootout.
"I wasn't very happy about what happened," Selanne said. "Obviously, I didn't expect that call. Whether it was classy or not, it was (Sharks coach) Ron Wilson's decision. He's not my favorite coach anymore."
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle took full responsibility for the mistake and tried to deflect blame from his star forward.
"The issue of the stick is my fault, in the sense that I have to make sure that I reinforce and even go to a point where all the sticks are measured," Carlyle said. "I have to make sure that those things are not an issue, and they were tonight. It might have cost us a point, it might not have. But I'll accept the responsibility."
Backup Ilya Bryzgalov made the start in place of Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who became a father for the first time early Wednesday morning. Bryzgalov should be in net again Saturday, as Giguere and his wife Kristen are dealing with a non-life-threatening medical condition with their son, Maxime Olivier.
Giguere is expected to rejoin the Ducks on Monday as they prepare for the playoffs.
The Ducks haven't lost much recently when Bryzgalov plays, as he's 4-1-2 with a 1.97 GAA in his last seven starts.
Anaheim is 4-2-1 against the Stars this season but has been outscored 5-1 in two straight losses at Dallas.
Center Andy McDonald has a team-leading nine points against Dallas this season. Selanne and defenseman Scott Niedermayer each have four goals to lead Anaheim.
Any chance the Stars at had at winning the Pacific likely ended Thursday with a 2-1 overtime loss at Columbus. Stu Barnes scored for Dallas, which has lost two straight to non-playoff teams after going 10-1-1 in its previous 12 games.
"We have to get emotionally engaged in the game," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "We think we are just going to finish off the year here and start the playoffs. We will find players to get emotionally engaged in the game because that's the only chance we have in the playoffs."
With Mike Smith stopping 26 shots Thursday, Marty Turco is expected to be back in net for this game. Turco is 1-3-1, including three straight losses, with an ugly 3.97 GAA this season against Anaheim.
The Stars close the regular season Sunday at home against Chicago.
Anaheim is 7-23-2 with two ties all-time at Dallas.
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