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Division-leading Ducks drop in on Stars

by Brian Hunter

DUCKS (7-1-1) at STARS (5-5-1)

TV: NHLN-CA, NHLN-US, FS-West, FS-Southwest

Last 10: Dallas 4-5-1

Season series: First of five meetings between these Pacific Division rivals. The Stars took five of six on the 2011-12 schedule, with Michael Ryder and Alex Goligoski scoring three goals apiece and Kari Lehtonen posting a pair of shutouts. Saku Koivu led the Ducks with three goals.

Big story: Anaheim's Viktor Fasth has made a seamless transition to the NHL and is causing perhaps the League's best goaltender controversy outside of Vancouver. The 30-year-old veteran of the Swedish leagues has a perfect 4-0 mark with a microscopic 0.98 goals-against average and a robust .962 save percentage after recording his first career shutout Wednesday in Colorado. It was Fasth's second consecutive start and third in four games, and he's bidding to cut even further into the playing time of incumbent Jonas Hiller (3-1-1, 3.54 GAA, .871 save percentage).

"He's giving me confidence that I never knew I would have in him," coach Bruce Boudreau told the Orange County Register.

Team Scope:

Ducks: Regardless of who's between the pipes, Anaheim keeps racking up the victories, and after finishing last in the Pacific a season ago the Ducks are currently tied with the Sharks for the division lead. Fasth may have gotten the bulk of the attention for his 31-save performance in their 3-0 win over the Avalanche, but two other offseason additions continued their quick starts. Sheldon Souray opened the scoring with his fourth goal, and Daniel Winnik had the primary assist on Francois Beauchemin's second-period tally. Koivu added a power-play marker.

"Guys were battling in front of me and they make it much easier for me to play back there," Fasth said. "I'm really enjoying playing behind these guys. They're incredible in front of me. [The shutout] is a little bonus. The most important thing is we got the win and started off this road trip really good."

Stars: Jaromir Jagr scored his NHL-record 17th career overtime goal Wednesday to lift Dallas to a 3-2 win over Edmonton, and if he scores again Friday he'll break a tie with Luc Robitaille and move into sole possession of 10th place on the all-time goal-scoring list. Jagr's 668th tally came on a wrist shot from the lower right circle, giving the Stars their second straight win. He assisted on Jamie Benn's goal in regulation as well, while Derek Roy scored on the power play and Lehtonen made 27 saves.

"He's still lethal when he has the puck," rookie forward Cody Eakin said. "That was a tough shot to stop -- it was a perfect shot."

Who's hot: Souray has a goal in three straight games for the Ducks. Ryan Getzlaf has one goal and four assists during a five-game points streak. Fasth leads the League in GAA and save percentage. … Benn has three goals and two assists in his last two games for the Stars.

Injury report: Anaheim defenseman Toni Lydman is day-to-day with flu-like symptoms. Defensemen Hampus Lindholm (concussion) and Cam Fowler (upper body) are on injured reserve. … Dallas forward Ray Whitney (foot) is on injured reserve and expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

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