The Anaheim Ducks didn't make any blockbuster deals immediately before the trading deadline. Still, general manager Bob Murray expects the tinkering he did to result in a deep playoff run.
Looking to break up a logjam for the final Western Conference playoff spot, the new-look Ducks open a five-game homestand Friday night against the slumping Dallas Stars.
The Ducks (31-28-6) were very active just prior to Wednesday's deadline, pulling off four of the 22 deals consummated league-wide.
Defenseman Steve Montador was shipped to Boston for center Petteri Nokelainen. Then fellow blue-liner Kent Huskins and gritty forward Travis Moen were sent to Pacific Division rival San Jose for two prospects and a draft pick.
Defenseman Jim Wisniewski and center Petri Kontiola came over from Chicago for center Samuel Pahlsson, a prospect and a draft pick. The Ducks closed their spree by picking up center Erik Christensen from Atlanta for another prospect.
"I fully expect this team to run for a playoff spot here," said Murray, whose team is tied with Dallas and Edmonton for eighth in the West.
Moen, Pahlsson and Huskins - all members of the Ducks' Stanley Cup-winning team in 2007 - are eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1, a factor that clearly forced Murray's hand.
"We just couldn't let these unrestricted guys go and not get anything for them," he said. "You talk to Travis, Sammy and Husky. They love it here and wanted to stay here, but they all look at you and say, 'I've got to try free agency'. The contract negotiations were going nowhere. It's just the way the game is."
There are some health concerns among some of the new Ducks. Nokelainen has not played since Feb. 10 due to an eye injury, and has been limited to 33 games. Wisniewski missed the first 26 games of 2008-09 recovering from surgery on a torn right ACL.
The Ducks did make a major move on Feb. 26, getting defenseman Ryan Whitney from Pittsburgh for high-scoring forward Chris Kunitz and a prospect. Whitney, who's been held without a point in three games, will make his home debut.
Anaheim returns to the Honda Center after going 3-2-1 on a season-high six-game road trip that ended with a 3-2 overtime loss to Chicago on Sunday. Jean-Sebastien Giguere was beaten by Martin Havlat 1:40 into the extra session, but was still pleased.
"For us it's positive road trip," said Giguere, who made 34 saves. "If we were going to have a bad road trip, I think that would have sealed our season."
Giguere started every game on the swing, and has alternated wins and losses in his last five home starts against Dallas. Jonas Hiller - 14-12-1 with a 2.33 goals-against average and four shutouts - won his only career start against Dallas by stopping 31 shots through overtime and two more in the shootout en route to a 2-1 victory on Nov. 22.
Anaheim has gone 2-1-1 against the Stars (31-26-7), but hasn't faced them at home since dropping a 5-2 decision on Nov. 7.
Dallas appeared to be in position for a possible sweep through California, but gave up two goals late in regulation and fell 5-4 in overtime to Los Angeles on Thursday. Two nights earlier, the Stars handed Pacific-leading San Jose its worst home loss of the season, 4-1.
"We made mental mistakes at the worst possible time," said Marty Turco, who failed to get his 30th win as the Stars dropped to 1-5-1 in their last seven.
Brendan Morrison, a waiver-wire pickup from Anaheim on Wednesday, played just over 13 1/2 minutes, had two shots on goal and one minor penalty in his Stars debut. He had 10 goals and 12 assists in 62 games with the Ducks after eight seasons with Vancouver.