With the calendar about to turn to April, the Dallas Stars
can only hope better fortunes aren’t far behind.
scored the decisive goal in the shootout and the Anaheim Ducks
set a franchise record for home victories in a season as they beat the reeling Stars 3-2 Sunday night at Honda Center and inched closer to clinching home-ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs.
With the one point they gained, the Stars did guarantee themselves a postseason berth, but they ended the month of March with a 2-7-2 record after posting a 12-2 mark in February. They trail the fourth-place Ducks by five points with three games left in the regular season.
''The best way to get our confidence back is winning,'' said Dallas goaltender Marty Turco
, who made 30 saves. ''We've all just been lacking a little bit. We need to keep battling to win games. When you get in the playoffs, that's what it is all about. We've got to generate that feeling, and it starts with me.''
had both of Anaheim’s goals in regulation and Teemu Selanne
also scored in the shootout. Jean-Sebastien Giguere
stopped 23 shots as the Ducks won at Honda Center for the 27th time this season, breaking the old mark of 26 set in 2005-06 and matched again last year.
Anaheim lost five of six to Dallas this season before winning the final two meetings, which Schneider said was important given the teams could very well face each other in the first round.
''We've certainly had our struggles against them this year. The last couple of games, we've reversed the fortunes,'' Schneider said. ''It's been a great back-and-forth series. They are one of the elite teams in the Western Conference. If we do end up playing them (in the postseason), it's going to be a battle. If we can get home ice, that's a big a bonus for us.''
Brad Richards helped Dallas draw first blood in the shootout, beating Giguere between his pads. But Selanne followed with a shot that squirted in under the right pad of Turco, and Giguere denied Mike Modano’s attempt. Kunitz then faked before putting a forehander past Turco and Giguere turned aside Jere Lehtinen on the Stars’ final chance.
''It obviously was tight. We feel fortunate to get the extra point in a shootout,'' Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said.
Schneider got the Ducks started during a first-period power play, driving a 55-footer from the right side that beat Turco at the 9:43 mark. Anaheim outshot Dallas 10-3 in the opening 20 minutes.
Modano evened the score with a milestone goal 6:45 into the second. Brenden Morrow passed from the right boards to Modano in the slot, and the 18-year veteran scored on a 20-foot shot. It was his 20th goal of the season, the 16th time in his NHL career he’s reached that mark.
Schneider’s second of the game and 12th of the season gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead before the end of the period. Ryan Getzlaf controlled the puck behind the Dallas net and slid a perfect pass to Schneider coming through the slot. The defenseman scored with 5:06 left in the second and registered the 15th multi-goal game of his career.
Niklas Hagman would help make sure the Stars earned a point and a playoff spot when he solved Giguere at 1:53 of the third. Hagman’s 27th came after Toby Petersen forced a turnover behind the Anaheim net and he was able to one-time the puck as it came to him out in front.
The Stars are 1-0-2 on a four-game road trip that ends Thursday in Phoenix, and their primary objective of securing a playoff berth has now been met.
''That's the first priority right there,'' Dallas defenseman Matt Niskanen said. ''It's something we wanted to do as soon as possible. That was our main focus coming into this trip, to make sure we get into the playoffs.''
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report.