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Stars hope to beat Ducks as homestand starts

Monday, 12.19.2011 / 3:04 PM / NHL Insider

By Steve Hunt - NHL.com Correspondent

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Stars hope to beat Ducks as homestand starts
Even after a road trip that saw Dallas take three out of five games and six of a possible 10 points, the team wants to bounce back against Anaheim following a loss Friday night in New Jersey.
FRISCO, Texas -- Even after a road trip that saw the Dallas Stars take three out of five games and six of a possible 10 points, captain Brenden Morrow was less than pleased with how it ended, a 6-3 loss at New Jersey on Friday night in Newark in the second game of a back-to-back.

But Dallas begins a three-game homestand on Monday night against Anaheim, a team that is 0-8-3 in its last 11 games away from home and is fresh off a 5-3 loss at Winnipeg on Friday to start a four-game road trip in disappointing fashion. Meanwhile, the Stars are focused on atoning for their poor showing against the Devils just three days ago in the Garden State.

"Yeah, it was a bit of a letdown. It could have been a great trip, 4-1 and going coast-to-coast like that would have been a big accomplishment," Morrow said. "A little flat in that Jersey game, had some time to rest and recover and think we're ready for tonight."

"Well, I just think they're a team that maybe lost their stride a little bit. They've got a tremendous group there. They had [Lubomir] Visnovsky out for four or five weeks and that hurts a club, especially a guy like that. My opinion is they're a real good hockey club and they're healthy now. We're going to have our hands full." -- Stars coach Glen Gulutzan on the Anaheim Ducks

The visiting Ducks are 3-5-1 since Bruce Boudreau became the club's new coach on Nov. 29, but are 0-4-0 on the road under Boudreau.
 
Despite the Ducks' obvious struggles away from home, the Stars aren't about to take them lightly in their first game on home ice since Dec. 3 against the New York Islanders.

"Well, I just think they're a team that maybe lost their stride a little bit. They've got a tremendous group there," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "They had [Lubomir] Visnovsky out for four or five weeks and that hurts a club, especially a guy like that. My opinion is they're a real good hockey club and they're healthy now. We're going to have our hands full."

Gritty Dallas center Steve Ott agrees that even though it has been a tough season thus far for the Ducks, they are always a tough team to match up with no matter the venue.

"They're a tough team to describe," Ott said. "It's a complex kind of situation because they have such great firepower. They've got a strong team, but it just seems like they haven't been clicking as good as they want to right now. So, they're one of those teams that you have to be fully prepared for going into the game and making sure that everybody's ready because of the firepower."

Ott agreed Monday's game is not only important because the Stars want to bounce back from the Friday loss to New Jersey, but to also start a run of seven of their next nine games at home on a positive note.

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"Well, we want to get back on the horse. Obviously, we lost our last game. It wasn't good enough no matter what the road trip was," Ott said. "For us to start off a Christmas homestand, you want to come out at your best and show that you can continue to try to make this place hard to play in."

One big strength for the Stars during that five-game road trip was their penalty kill, which was a perfect 15-for-15 on the trip. Since Dec. 8, the Dallas PK has jumped from 17th to ninth in the League rankings.

But it's a bit of a different story for the Dallas power play, which currently sits 24th in the NHL at 14.6 percent. There were some signs of life during the trip as the Stars' PP was 3-for-22, but it's clear there is still work to do.

"Yeah, we're generating more shots. We're just not getting goals. We've just got to keep shooting and going to the net," Gulutzan said. "That's about the gist of it. We've had our chances but they'll eventually start going in."
       
However, facing the Ducks -- whose road PK kills off 79 percent of opposing power plays, 25th in the League -- could be the cure for what currently ails the Stars' power-play unit.    

Morrow is a key member of that group and whether or not the PP gets rolling tonight against Anaheim, the goal remains the same.

"I think the biggest thing is trying to stay focused for the game. You've got the holidays. You've got your friends and family in town, but there's a job for us to do. There's a time to go out shopping and get the gifts, but there's a time to focus for those 60 minutes of the game," Morrow said. "That's going to be key for us in these next three home games leading up to Christmas, is to stay focused for the whole 60 minutes."
Quote of the Day

Philadelphia is where I started my NHL career and this is where I want to be so I am really happy. This definitely gives me a lot of confidence by the Flyers showing that they have confidence in me. I know they want to see me get better as a player and this is the place to do it.

— Zac Rinaldo to the Flyers website on signing a two-year contract extension with Philadelphia