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The Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars will meet twice in the next week in highly important matchups for their respective playoff hopes. They'll likely enter the first meeting with chips on their shoulders.
The Ducks and Stars both seek to bounce back from painful losses when they face off Saturday in Dallas.
The Western Conference playoff race is a logjam, with the Stars (29-24-7) and Ducks (30-28-5) two of four teams tied for the final two berths with 65 points. Three other clubs lurk close behind with 61 points or more.
Recent history between these teams - which will meet again next Friday in Anaheim - favors the Stars. Dallas is 2-0-1 in the season series and 10-2-3 versus the Ducks since Feb. 10, 2007, including a 7-1-1 mark at home.
Another win will be in store for the Stars if the Ducks perform the way they did Thursday. They lost 6-0 in Boston for their worst shutout defeat since Nov. 21, 2001, when they fell at Florida by the same score.
Anaheim outshot the Bruins 35-27, but Jean-Sebastien Giguere was pulled early in the second period after allowing three goals on the first eight shots he faced.
"It found a way to turn in their favor in a hurry and we didn't respond well to adversity," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle, whose club failed to win a third straight game and fell to 2-2-0 on its season-high six-game road trip.
Giguere was also pulled in favor of Jonas Hiller in the second period of a 5-3 home loss to Dallas on Nov. 7 after yielding four goals on 13 shots. He's suffered both of Anaheim's losses in the season series while Hiller got credit for the only victory, a 2-1 shootout win at the American Airlines Center on Nov. 22, when he made 23 saves through overtime.
Hiller stopped 16 of 19 shots Thursday against the Bruins.
Like the Ducks, Dallas easily outshot its opponent Thursday, but couldn't turn that advantage into a victory. The Stars put 42 shots on net to St. Louis' 22, but fell 3-1 as Chris Mason made 41 saves and Dallas players hit four posts and a crossbar with other shots.
"We have hit more posts the last two games than I can remember," said Stars coach Dave Tippett, whose club has managed two total goals while losing three straight.
Tippett's club is also failing to take advantage on the power play. The Stars are 0-for-12 with the man advantage during their skid, which has dropped them to 1-3-0 on their season-high six-game homestand.
"It's definitely frustrating," said center Steve Ott, who assisted on Jere Lehtinen's goal against the Blues. "You can talk about putting in the work ethic, but you've got to capitalize. You can say you hit posts, but it's not good enough.
"When you don't score on the power play, you shoot yourself in the foot. You have to score goals on 42 shots."
With Brad Richards (wrist) and Toby Petersen (foot) both sidelined for at least a month, Dallas is thin at the center position. Steve Begin, acquired from Montreal on Thursday, joined the Stars for practice on Friday and could make his debut with the team in this contest. He will likely be used on the fourth line and in penalty-killing situations.
"He's good on the penalty kill and he is a competitor in every sense of the word," Stars co-general manager Les Jackson said.