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Preview: Ducks Close Out Back-to-Back Tonight in Dallas

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara /

The Ducks (34-22-12, 80 points) close out a back-to-back set tonight against the Dallas Stars (37-24-6, 80 points) at American Airlines Center. (5:30 p.m. PT, TV: FOX Sports West, Radio: AM 830).

Anaheim enters the game with victories in three of its last four games (3-1-0) and seven in its past 10 (7-2-1), tied for fifth in the NHL since February 15. Since that date, the Ducks also lead the league with a 2.00 goals against per game. With points in 18 of its past 25 since the bye week (15-7-3), the Ducks find themselves in third place in the Pacific Division, one point behind second place San Jose and 11 points back of first place Vegas. But the Ducks are only one point ahead of LA in the second wild card and will have played two more games than their crosstown rivals once tonight's contest ends.

Both the Kings and Sharks earned victories last night over the Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues, respectively, while the Ducks suffered a 4-2 setback in Nashville. Despite nearly erasing a 3-0 deficit in the third period with two goals from Rickard Rakell, the Preds scored an insurance marker with 1:46 remaining in regulation to give them their franchise-best 10th consecutive victory.

Rakell has eight goals and 10 points as part of a five-game goal streak, one shy of his career high set earlier this season from December 21-January 2 (10 points, 7g/3a). Meanwhile, Ryan Getzlaf has tied a team record for most assists in a four-game span with 10 in the last four he has appeared in. The Ducks captain accomplished the feat previously from March 20-26, 2011. Getzlaf's two-assist performance last night pushed him to his 10th career 40-assist season, the most by any player in franchise history.

Tonight's contest represents the second game of a three-game season series between the Ducks and Stars, and the first meeting held in Dallas. These clubs met 15 days ago at Honda Center, a 2-0 victory for Anaheim. Getzlaf paces active Ducks in career scoring vs. Dallas with 47 points (11g/36a) in 57 career games. American Airlines Center has proven to be one of the most difficult buildings to win in for Anaheim, as demonstrated by its 16-37-7 mark all time. (Anaheim is 45-64-11 overall). The Ducks last won in Dallas on March 1, 2015 (3-1), but have since dropped three in a row.

The Stars are coming off a 2-0 defeat to the Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday and have gone 4-4-2 over their last 10. Holding down the first wild card spot (one point ahead of LA), the Stars will be without the services of Martin Hanzal for the remainder of the season after it was announced today that the veteran center will undergo spinal fusion surgery in the coming days. Hanzal was limited to 38 games this season, earning 10 points (5g/5a). Stars general manager Jim Nill said the expected recovery time is between six and seven months.

While goaltender Ben Bishop is still out with a knee injury, center Radek Faksa (foot) and defenseman Esa Lindell (illness) are expected to return to the lineup tonight, according to the Stars. Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 32 of 33 shots in the loss in Nashville, will get the start for Dallas. Lehtonen is 11-7-2 with a 2.30 goals-against average and .919 save percentage in 24 appearances this season and has a 9-8-4 mark in 21 appearances all-time against the Ducks.

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