By Kyle Shohara
In what has now become a best-of-3 series, the Ducks will look to take advantage of home ice, and the support of their dedicated fanbase, as they clash with the Stars tonight at Honda Center.
The Ducks have emphasized quick, strong starts all throughout the season and that mentality has carried over into this series. Through the first four games, the Ducks have outscored the Stars 6-2 in the first period. But the Ducks have been outscored 10-3 in the second and third periods combined, prompting head coach Bruce Boudreau to say “I don’t think the league will commission games down to 20 minutes, so we’re going to have to start playing for 60.”
Defenseman Mark Fistric says the home crowd will undoubtedly give the team a lift tonight. “It’s important for us to feed off of our crowd,” he said. “We have great fans. We have to get off to a great start and not look back.”
With both teams winning their games on home ice, Fistric says it’s all the more important to take care of business at Honda Center.
“It shows just how tight the Western Conference has been all season long,” he said. “Home ice can be the difference. You get the matchups you want, but it’s still up to the players to make sure they’re executing their job.”
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf took part in the morning skate, but his status for tonight still remains up in the air. Getzlaf remained coy about his injury, only to stay of his status for Game 5, “We’ll see tonight.
“This is part of our process. We won’t really know until game time tonight.”
Getzlaf says he “feels good” and is where he wants to be in terms of recovery. “Everything is about getting clearance and getting back onto the ice. It’s part of the process. We’ve had to go through some steps, and [the morning skate] was one of them.”
TEEMU BACK IN THE LINEUP
After being a healthy scratch for Game 4 in Dallas, Teemu Selanne will be back in action tonight. The 43-year-old says he can’t wait for puck drop.
“I’m very excited,” he said. “I’m a very positive guy, and it wasn’t the end of the world. It’s a new opportunity today and there are no hard feelings. It’s a business. It’ll be fun.”
Selanne says tonight is an opportunity to make a statement in this series. “It’s a huge game,” he said. “We know what to do. We didn’t expect this to be easy, so we want to turn this ship around tonight play our best game of the series. That’s our goal.”
Selanne skated with his familiar linemates Mathieu Perreault and Patrick Maroon, and Boudreau says he isn’t about to fix something that isn’t broken. “They've played together, and played well together,” he said. “I didn't see why we'd break up another line that's going good. We did win 54 games and those guys played together in most of them.”
ANDERSEN TO START
Ducks netminder Frederik Andersen will have a shot at redemption tonight, as Boudreau confirmed the 24-year-old will get the start. Andersen was yanked from Game 4’s loss in Dallas midway through the third period, but Boudreau expressed full confidence in the young goaltender.
“That might’ve been his first bad game in an awful long time,” he said. “But I think he’ll bounce back and do a real good job tonight. I think he knows I have full confidence in him. I started him in the playoffs. I don't think I had to go over it. That's sort of a given from the amount of time he’s played this year, and the amount of big games he’s played in.”
Luca Sbisa is expected to make his first appearance in this series. With how physical the past four games have been, Sbisa says that style fits him perfectly. “It’s been really physical. It’s one of those series,” he said. “I think I can bring that aspect to the game. If they give me the green light, I’m just going to be hard to play against and do my best to help the team.”
“There's a good chance he's in,” said Boudreau. “He's got experience and he's played in these games before. He can be a physical defenseman when needed. He's had a rough year because of injuries, but when he's been at his best, he's a top-four defenseman. We're hoping that's going to happen tonight.”