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Round 2
Round 3
Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Sunday, 02.19.2012 / 12:00 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected Predators-Stars lineups

DALLAS -- Here are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

PREDATORS

Colin Wilson-David Legwand-Gabriel Bourque
Sergei Kostitsyn-Mike Fisher-Martin Erat
Brandon Yip-Nick Spaling-Jordin Tootoo
Matt Halischuk-Craig Smith-Jerred Smithson

Ryan Suter-Shea Weber
Hal Gill-Kevin Klein
Roman Josei-Francis Bouillon

Pekka Rinne (starter)
Anders Lindback

Scratches: Ryan Ellis, Jack Hillen.

Injuries: Patric Hornqvist (upper body), Brian McGrattan (upper body).

Notes:  Barry Trotz's Predators are 0-3-1 in their last four games away from the Music City and they are 0-2-0 against the Stars so far this season. D Hal Gill figures to make his Nashville debut today in Dallas after being acquired on Friday in a trade with Montreal. The addition of Gill makes the Preds, who were already pretty deep at the blueline, even deeper, which could pay huge dividends down the stretch and come playoff time. Nashville fell 2-1 at Detroit on Friday. Unlike Dallas, they did not play on Saturday and figure to be well-rested for this one.

STARS

Loui Eriksson-Mike Ribeiro-Michael Ryder
Steve Ott-Tom Wandell-Tomas Vincour
Eric Nystrom-Vernon Fiddler-Radek Dvorak
Ryan Garbutt-Jake Dowell-Adam Burish

Alex Goligoski-Stephane Robidas
Nicklas Grossman-Trevor Daley
Philip Larsen-Mark Fistric

Richard Bachman (starter)
Kari Lehtonen

Scratch: Toby Petersen.

Injuries: Jamie Benn, (knee), Brenden Morrow (upper body), Sheldon Souray (foot).

Notes:  The Stars head into today's game with Nashville after a 2-1 overtime loss at Phoenix last night. Dallas is 0-8-2 in the second leg of a back-to-back this season and the only team in the NHL yet to win the second game of a back-to-back. It looks like Glen Gulutzan's club will be without All-Star center Jamie Benn for a second straight game as he continues to recover after being cut by the skate of Chris Giordano in a 3-2 overtime win over Calgary on Thursday. Dallas is 2-0-0 against the Predators this season and the Stars have won four of the last five meetings.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 1:36 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

For Stars, it's all about the start against Flames

DALLAS -- During their current two-game losing streak at American Airlines Center, the Dallas Stars (28-25-3, 59 points) have gotten off to slow starts in consecutive home losses to the Coyotes and Kings. That's a trend first-year coach Glen Gulutzan would like to see reverse itself tonight as the Calgary Flames (27-22-8, 62 points) visit the Lone Star State.

"I don't know if it's an epidemic here because we're starting slow at home and that's something we've addressed," Gulutzan said. "It seems when you're at home, there has to be a greater emphasis on making sure you're coming out. You have to test if your opponent's ready and a lot of times in the first 10 minutes if they're not, you can get an edge and make a team play uncomfortable the rest of the way. I think that's what we haven't done a good job of here. We're putting some focus into our starts here."

For Stars center Mike Ribeiro, having better starts at home boils down to a fairly simple formula.

"At times better starts just means scoring," Ribeiro said. "We just need to be simple -- dump pucks, get a good forecheck going, get some hits, really simplify our game and not try to do too much. We need to get our lines going and get our people involved in the game. The main thing is to just keep pushing the puck forward."

The Flames currently sit in the ninth spot in the Western Conference, two spots and three points ahead of the Stars, who are in 11th. Dallas heads into tonight's game two days removed from a 3-1 loss at Detroit on Tuesday, the Red Wings' 21st straight win at Joe Louis Arena, a new NHL record.

Tonight marks the first of four meetings this season between Calgary and Dallas, and given that these two clubs figure to be battling it out for one of the final playoff spots in the West from here on out, there's no understating how big this contest is for both sides.

"We're fighting for our lives. This is our playoffs. We're in a big race and we know it," Stars defenseman Mark Fistric said. "If you can get the fans into it early, get the first goal and let the other team chase us the rest of the game, that's when the other team starts to make mistakes and then you get two, three, four goals."

Fistric added: "Our main focus is to come out and have a really good first 10 minutes of the game, make sure we're doing all the right things, get a bounce, get one and go from there. I think too many times this year at home we've been behind the eight ball early and we're just chasing the game."

The term four-point game might be an overused cliché this time of year, but it's a label that definitely fits tonight.

"Yeah, obviously two points are important in every game, but this is a team we're going to see a lot here until the end of the year. It's important," Ribeiro said. "These are big points for us. It will be a good battle. You need to grind points and find a way to get points. It doesn't have to be pretty, but results are important right now. We need to get them, play a good 60 minutes and find a way to get some points."

Dallas returns to the road after tonight's game for a Saturday date in Phoenix. The Stars won't have back-to-back home games until Feb. 24, when they start a three-game homestand against the Wild.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 02.16.2012 / 1:26 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Flames, Stars

DALLAS -- Here are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center:

FLAMES
Alex Tanguay - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Tom Kostopoulos - Michael Cammalleri - Blake Comeau
Lance Bouma - Roman Horak - Krys Kolanos
Paul Byton - Matt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester - Chris Butler
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving

Scratches: Anton Babchuk

Injuries: Mikael Backlund (upper body), Curtis Glencross (knee), Blair Jones (ankle), David Moss (foot), Lee Stempniak (ankle), Derek Smith (ankle)

Notes: The Flames head into Thursday's game in Dallas after an impressive 5-1 win over Toronto on Tuesday, a game where Kiprusoff turned back 41 shots by the Maple Leafs. Calgary is currently riding a two-game winning streak with impressive home victories over the Canucks last Saturday and the Leafs just two days ago. The Flames are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games but are only 11-14-6 away from the Saddledome this season. Jokinen has been on a hot streak lately with 13 points (6-7-13) over his last 10 games.

STARS
Steve Ott - Jamie Benn - Tomas Vincour
Loui Eriksson - Mike Ribeiro - Michael Ryder
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Jake Dowell - Tom Wandell - Adam Burish

Alex Goligoski - Stephane Robidas
Nicklas Grossman - Trevor Daley
Philip Larsen - Mark Fistric

Kari Lehtonen
Richard Bachman

Scratches: Adam Pardy, Toby Petersen

Injuries: Brenden Morrow (upper body), Sheldon Souray (foot)

Notes:  Dallas is just two days removed from a 3-1 loss at Detroit, making it the 21st straight team the Red Wings have beaten at Joe Louis Arena, a new NHL record. The Stars have dropped two straight at home, most recently a 4-2 loss to the Kings on Sunday and Dallas is just 2-3-1 in their last six games at American Airlines Center. Tonight marks the first of four meetings between the Stars and Flames this season. Two Dallas players have ties to Calgary. Pardy was with the Flames for the last three seasons before joining the Stars last summer as a free agent. Nystrom started his NHL career in Calgary and spent his first three seasons there before joining the Wild last year. Nystrom joined the Stars in a trade with Minnesota last October. 

 
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POSTED ON Sunday, 02.12.2012 / 12:49 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected Lineups: Kings at Stars

DALLAS --- Here are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

KINGS
Dustin Brown-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams
Dwight King-Mike Richards-Jordan Nolan
Kyle Clifford-Andrei Loktionov-Trevor Lewis
Brad Richardson-Colin Fraser-Trent Hunter

Rob Scuderi-Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell-Jack Johnson
Alec Martinez-Matt Greene

Jonathan Bernier (starter)
Jonathan Quick

Scratches: Davis Drewiske, Dustin Penner, Kevin Westgarth.

Injuries: Simon Gagne (concussion), Scott Parse (hip), Jarret Stoll (lower body).

Notes:  Los Angeles heads into Dallas at the end of a six-game road trip. The Kings are 1-3-1 in the first five games of that trek, falling 2-1 in overtime at the New York Islanders on Saturday afternoon. LA is 2-3-4 in the second leg of a back-to-back this season and the Kings are 11-8-7 on the road this season. Darryl Sutter’s club has scored just five goals in the first six games of their current road trip and is currently on a two-game losing streak. Sutter likely gives Jonathan Bernier the start in goal and he is 1-2-1 in his four starts in the second game of a back-to-back this season with a goals-against-average of 2.52.

STARS
Steve Ott-Jamie Benn-Tomas Vincour
Loui Eriksson-Mike Ribeiro-Michael Ryder
Eric Nystrom-Vernon Fiddler-Radek Dvorak
Toby Petersen-Tom Wandell-Adam Burish

Alex Goligoski-Stephane Robidas
Nicklas Grossman-Trevor Daley
Philip Larsen-Mark Fistric

Kari Lehtonen (starter)
Richard Bachman

Scratches: Jake Dowell, Adam Pardy.

Injuries: Brenden Morrow (upper body), Sheldon Souray (foot).

Notes:  Dallas had Saturday off, one day after falling 3-2 at Buffalo in a shootout to finish a quick two-game road trip with three of a possible four points. The Stars have won three straight against the Kings after dropping the first two meetings of the season back in October 2011. Sunday’s game will be the final regular season meeting between these Pacific Division foes this year.  Jamie Benn, a 2012 NHL All-Star has seven points (4-3-7) in the first six games of the second half.
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 1:42 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Stars begin grueling stretch trying to hold off Coyotes

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars embark on an 18-day stretch beginning tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes in which they will play 11 games without having consecutive home games at any point. Dallas clearly wants to start off this run on a positive note, but there is a lot more in play surrounding tonight's Pacific Division clash.

That's because after Phoenix beat Detroit 3-1 in Glendale on Monday night, the Coyotes (24-21-8) pulled into a tie with the Stars for the ninth spot in the Western Conference standings with 56 points. The Stars (27-22-2) currently hold the tiebreaker because they have played two fewer games.

First-year Stars coach Glen Gulutzan is well aware how big tonight's game is for his club, especially playing a division rival they figure to be battling the rest of the way for one of the bottom two playoff spots in the West.

"Every game's important for us, but some have different meanings. This is a team we're tied with. This is direct competition. This is a team that wants what we want," Gulutzan said. "This is a bigger game for us. They played last night. We're fresh. This is a real big game for us."

While the Coyotes come into this game on the second end of a back-to-back and in the early stages of a stretch where they play four games in six nights, Dave Tippett's club does have history on their side. The Coyotes are 2-0-1 in their last four games at American Airlines Center, but they are just 12-11-4 on the road this year.

Phoenix is 4-3-1 in the second game of a back-to-back this season, a solid mark. But for Stars center Vernon Fiddler, who spent his last few seasons with the Coyotes, jumping on tonight's foe early is vital, especially with them having played Monday.

"It's an advantage for any team -- a team's coming in back-to-back. With their travel, they get in late. We've been waiting for them and we have to be focused and ready," Fiddler said. "It seems like when we're a little more physical, we're a better hockey team. It's something we're going to start doing tonight."

The Stars last played on Saturday when they beat the Wild 2-1 in a shootout. No. 1 goalie Kari Lehtonen was stellar, stopping 33 of 34 shots and two of three attempts by Minnesota in the shootout. It was Lehtonen's third consecutive win after a run of four straight losses. He is 4-1-3 with a 1.91 goals-against-average in his nine career starts against Phoenix.

But if there is a key to tonight's game for both clubs, it involves discipline. Phoenix is the least-penalized club in the NHL, averaging just 7.8 minutes per night while Dallas averages 13.1, making them the League's third-most penalized team.

However, should they play a fairly disciplined game and be able to draw some penalties, the Stars' power play could be a factor. Dallas has scored on the power play in three straight games, which ties a season high, and it's a streak the Stars would like to continue tonight.

"I think we have to get a real good start here. We have a lot of games coming up here. There are so many big games coming up," Stars winger Loui Eriksson said. "We have to play well to make it to the playoffs. Starting today against Phoenix, it's a four-point game for us here. If we win, we can get two extra points against them before we go on a road trip here with a lot of games coming up, so it's going to be an important game."
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 12:55 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Coyotes vs. Stars

DALLAS -- Here are the projected lineups for Tuesday night’s game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

COYOTES

Ray Whitney-Martin Hanzal-Radim Vrbata
Raffi Torres-Daymond Langkow-Mikkel Boedker
Larui Korpikoski-Boyd Gordon-Shane Doan
Taylor Pyatt-Kyle Chipchura-Gilbert Brule

Keith Yandle-Adrian Aucoin
Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Rotislav Klesla
Michael Roszival-Derek Morris

Mike Smith (starter)
Jason LaBarbera

Scratches: Paul Bissonnette, Chris Summers.

Injuries: David Schlemko (foot).

Notes:  The Coyotes beat Detroit 3-1 on Monday night in Glendale, ending a seven-game losing streak against the Red Wings. Martin Hanzal had two goals against Detroit, who has now beaten the Sharks and Red Wings in consecutive games. Dave Tippett’s club is 4-3-1 in the second game of back-to-backs so far this season and has a goal differential of plus-1 in those contests. These clubs have already met three times this year but only once in Dallas, where the Stars won 2-1 in overtime back on Oct. 10. Phoenix is 1-0-1 in the two meetings in Glendale. The Coyotes are 12-11-4 on the road and are 4-4-2 in their past 10 games.

STARS

Steve Ott-Jamie Benn-Michael Ryder
Eric Nystrom-Mike Ribeiro-Loui Eriksson
Adam Burish-Vernon Fiddler-Radek Dvorak
Toby Petersen-Tom Wandell-Tomas Vincour

Sheldon Souray-Stephane Robidas
Nicklas Grossman-Trevor Daley
Philip Larsen-Alex Goligoski

Kari Lehtonen (starter)
Richard Bachman

Scratches: Mark Fistric, Adam Pardy, Jake Dowell.

Injuries: Brenden Morrow (upper body).

Notes: Dallas begins a stretch with Tuesday night’s game against Phoenix where it will play in a different building in 11 straight games. There are a number of home games, five to be exact, coupled with six road contests but the Stars won’t have consecutive games in the Lone Star State until Feb. 24 against Minnesota, when they start a three-game homestand. The Stars beat the Wild 2-1 in a shootout Saturday night at American Airlines Center and will be without captain Brenden Morrow, who continues to be bothered by a combination neck/shoulder issue. Morrow will miss a second straight game and also won’t travel for a quick, two-game road trip to Columbus and Buffalo later this week.
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POSTED ON Saturday, 02.04.2012 / 6:45 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

With Morrow out, Stars shuffle lines

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars put captain Brenden Morrow on injured reserve Friday with a combination neck and shoulder issue, which means Glen Gulutzan's team will be without their captain for at least the next week.

"I don't have much on Brenden. His neck was bothering him again, shoulder. He's going to go see the doctor here today and go from there," Gulutzan said before Saturday's game against Minnesota. "That's all I know."

With a vacancy on Dallas' second line alongside center Mike Ribeiro and left winger Loui Eriksson, a 2011 NHL All-Star, it looks like third-line winger Eric Nystrom will be the one to move up as a fill-in for Morrow.

It's a challenge his coach feels he's ready for.

"He's a worker and I think that's going to help (Ribeiro) there too a little bit. With our captain being out, we've got to have other guys step in and do things," Gulutzan said. "When you get injuries, you've got to mix and match and put guys in places that you think they can succeed."


When asked about skating with two new linemates for tonight's game against Minnesota, Nystrom, who spent last season with the Wild, admits it's an opportunity he welcomes. His 15 goals currently rank third on the Stars.

"I'm just excited. It'll be fun. It's a good opportunity to play with a guy like that (Ribeiro). He really loves to dish," Nystrom said. "I've just got to make sure my game stays the same-staying around the net, getting in on the forecheck, playing physical and creating space for (Ribeiro) to do his thing."


Dallas also recalled center Tomas Vincour, who has played 18 games in the NHL this season, from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League to fill the open roster spot. Vincour will fill Nystrom's spot on the third line alongside Vernon Fiddler and Radek Dvorak.


"He's just going to work," Gulutzan said of Vincour. "It's an opportunity for him to get on a line that likes to work and grind. It's an opportunity for him to play some good, significant minutes."


Tonight's game comes just 13 days after these clubs met at the Xcel Energy Center, a game the Wild won 5-2 by scoring three goals in less than a minute. Dallas expects a similar effort from Minnesota tonight in its building.

"Extremely hard-working team, good defensive team and they're well coached for sure," was how Gulutzan characterized the Wild. "They're going to bring energy into this building that's for sure. They come to work every night and that's the key for us. We're coming to work too."

Dallas forward Michael Ryder, who is tied for the team lead in goals with 18 and will skate in the 600th game of his career tonight, remembers that loss in the Twin Cities well but expects a much better effort this time around at American Airlines Center.


"It was a tough game and we definitely don't forget that. It's getting to the point in the season where we need to get on a little roll and get some points every night. We can't wait until the end of the year. We need to do it right now," Ryder said.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 02.04.2012 / 1:56 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Wild-Stars

DALLAS – Here are the projected lineups for a game tonight between the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.

WILD

Dany Heatley - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Johnson
Cal Clutterbuck - Matt Cullen - Devin Setoguchi
Darroll Powe - Erik Christensen - Carson McMillan
Matt Kassian - Warren Peters - Jed Ortmeyer

Nick Schultz - Jared Spurgeon
Justin Falk - Nate Prosser
Greg Zanon - Clayton Stoner

Nicklas Backstrom
Josh Harding

Scratches: Mike Lundin, Brad Staubitz, Marek Zidlicky.
Injuries: Clayton Stoner (lower body), Mikko Koivu (shoulder), Guillaume Latendresse (concussion), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion), Jarod Palmer (concussion).

NOTES: Minnesota is 0-10-4 at American Airlines Center since 2003. These clubs met on Jan. 21 at the Xcel Energy Center and it was the Wild who took the first meeting of the season by a 5-2 margin. The Wild come into this one on a winning note after a 1-0 victory at Colorado on Thursday night. Mike Yeo’s club is 12-12-4 on the road this season. Saturday figures to mark the Minnesota debut of center Erik Christensen, who was acquired in a trade with the Rangers on Friday.

STARS

Steve Ott - Jamie Benn - Michael Ryder
Eric Nystrom - Mike Ribeiro - Loui Eriksson
Tomas Vincour - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Jake Dowell - Tom Wandell - Adam Burish

Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Nicklas Grossman - Trevor Daley
Philip Larsen - Alex Goligoski

Kari Lehtonen
Richard Bachman

Scratches: Mark Fistric, Adam Pardy, Toby Petersen.
Injuries: Brenden Morrow (upper body).

NOTES:  Dallas placed captain Brenden Morrow on injured reserve on Friday and he is expected to miss about a week. Morrow has been recently bothered by a neck and shoulder issue and didn’t play in the final game before the All-Star break against Anaheim on Jan. 24. Center Tomas Vincour has been recalled from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League to give Glen Gulutzan a full roster. The Stars split their two-game road trip to Anaheim and San Jose earlier this week, beating the Ducks 6-2 on Wednesday but falling 5-2 to the Sharks on Thursday, keeping them winless on the tail end of back-to-backs so far this season.
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POSTED ON Saturday, 02.04.2012 / 1:39 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Nystrom expected to replace injured Morrow for Stars

DALLAS – On Friday night, the Dallas Stars (26-22-2, 54 points) announced they had put Brenden Morrow on injured reserve with a neck and shoulder issue, which means Glen Gulutzan's team will be without their captain for at least the next week.

"I don't have much on Brenden. His neck was bothering him again, shoulder. He's going to go see the doctor here today and go from there," Gulutzan said. "That's all I know."

And with a vacancy on Dallas' second line alongside center Mike Ribeiro and All-Star left wing Loui Eriksson, it looks like third-line winger Eric Nystrom will be the one to move up as a fill-in for Morrow.

It's a challenge his coach feels he's ready for.

"He's a worker and I think that's going to help (Ribeiro) there too a little bit. With our captain being out, we've got to have other guys step in and do things," Gulutzan said. "When you get injuries, you've got to mix and match and put guys in places that you think they can succeed."

When asked about skating with two new linemates for tonight's game with Minnesota (25-19-7, 57 points), Nystrom, who spent last season with the Wild, admits it's an opportunity he welcomes. His 15 goals currently rank third on the Stars.

"I'm just excited. It'll be fun. It's a good opportunity to play with a guy like that (Ribeiro). He really loves to dish," Nystrom said. "I've just got to make sure my game stays the same-staying around the net, getting in on the forecheck, playing physical and creating space for (Ribeiro) to do his thing."

Dallas also recalled center Tomas Vincour, who has played 18 games in the NHL this season, from the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League to fill the open roster spot. Vincour will fill Nystrom's spot on the third line alongside Vernon Fiddler and Radek Dvorak.

"He's just going to work," Gulutzan said of Vincour. "It's an opportunity for him to get on a line that likes to work and grind. It's an opportunity for him to play some good, significant minutes."

This game comes just 13 days after these clubs met at the Xcel Energy Center, a game the Wild won 5-2 after scoring three goals in less than a minute. Dallas expects a similar effort from Minnesota tonight in their building.

"Extremely hard-working team, good defensive team and they're well coached for sure," is how Gulutzan characterized the Wild. "They're going to bring energy into this building that's for sure. They come to work every night and that's the key for us. We're coming to work too."

Stars right winger Michael Ryder, who is tied for the team lead in goals with 18 and will skate in the 600th game of his career tonight, remembers that loss in the Twin Cities well but expects a much better effort this time around at American Airlines Center.

"It was a tough game and we definitely don't forget that. It's getting to the point in the season where we need to get on a little roll and get some points every night. We can't wait until the end of the year. We need to do it right now," Ryder said.
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 2:36 PM

By Steve Hunt -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Ducks want to keep the wins coming

DALLAS -- The Anaheim Ducks (18-22-7, 43 points) will look to continue their nine-game unbeaten streak with a win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center. Bruce Boudreau's club is 8-0-1 over its last nine games, a run of positive results that includes a 5-2 win over the same Stars on Jan. 10 at the Honda Center.

Anaheim's coach has no illusions about how rare such a good run of form is in today's National Hockey League.

"I think it has more to do with staying at a level to win, which is difficult. That's why there's not a lot of winning streaks of this nature during the course of a year," Boudreau said. "It's tough to win. Early on, teams said we're playing the Ducks. Now teams say they're playing pretty well. We'd better be ready for them. We want to be the ones to end it."

For Ducks forward Corey Perry, the 2011 Hart Trophy winner, his club's recent streak is something he chalks up to one simple fact.

"Yeah, I think everybody's starting to buy into the system. Everybody's buying into what Bruce is preaching every day," Perry said. "You look at the way we've been winning games and it starts right in our own zone -- playing tight defense and eliminating the turnovers we had in the first half of the year."

The Ducks head into tonight's game two days removed from a 3-2 win over Colorado, a game where starting goaltender Jonas Hiller stopped a season-high 43 shots to pick up his fifth straight win between the pipes.

"I don't think we played our best, but Hiller did. This was a game the goalie needed to steal you one," Boudreau said. "We just hope it doesn't become a trend. I just thought our guys looked a little tired, maybe a little more mentally tired than they were physically tired, but Jonas came up and played tremendous for us."

Tonight's game coupled with Anaheim's first two after the break against Phoenix and a second meeting with Dallas figure to be big should the Ducks hope to climb back into the playoff race, something everyone in the room is aware of.

"We talked about that this morning. It's division opponents and teams you're trying to catch in the standings," Perry said. "These are three huge games for us. Six points are on the line. You could even say 12 points are on the line because it's our division and division teams. We have to be ready to play. We want to get the two points tonight before the six-day break that we have and go into the break on a high. It'd be a good feeling if we could do that."

His coach agrees, but is also keeping things in proper perspective.

"We just want to focus on one thing at a time, and tonight's the only thing we want to focus on," Boudreau said.

But the veteran head coach did admit he and his staff are on guard to prevent his players from looking past tonight's game to the pending All-Star break.

"Yeah, I think we alluded to that this morning a little bit and we'll do it again tonight. We'll do some talking about that for sure," Boudreau said.

   

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I was in there icing my face as she was trying to push a baby out.

— Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf on going to the hospital with a facial laceration while his wife was in labor following Game 1 on Wednesday