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Ducks host Stars, who 'have given us fits'

by John Kreiser

STARS (24-21-9) at DUCKS (40-11-5)

TV: TXA-21, FS-W

Last 10: Dallas 4-4-2; Anaheim 7-3-0

Season series: It's the third and final game between the Dallas Stars and Anaheim Ducks. The home team has skated off with a 6-3 victory in each of the first two.

Big story: The Stars start a three-game Western trip in desperate need of points despite going 3-1-1 on a five-game homestand that ended with a 3-2 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Thursday. The Ducks are on cruise control in the Pacific Division and working to keep their lead in the race for first place in the conference and the Presidents' Trophy.

Team Scope:

Stars: Getting seven of 10 points on a homestand isn't bad, but it's not good enough when you're on the outside looking in. With 57 points, Dallas is eight behind the Minnesota Wild for fourth place in the Central Division and six in back of the Vancouver Canucks for the final wild-card berth.

Nor do the Stars face an easy trip. After Anaheim, they visit the Phoenix Coyotes and San Jose Sharks on back-to-back nights before hosting the Coyotes on Saturday in their final game before the Olympic break.

"We've got our final push before the break and we just want to focus on what's ahead of us." Stars coach Lindy Ruff told the media Friday. "We've got to play some good teams and we're going into their buildings. It's not going to be easy, and then we come home for one. We'll take it one game at a time, but if we can play .750 hockey (win three of four), we'll get back up in the standings."

Ducks: Having survived a physical battle in a 5-3 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, Anaheim has to shift gears and prepare for an opponent that relies on speed. The Stars used that speed to dominate the Ducks in their previous meeting, a 6-3 victory in Dallas on Nov. 26.

"The Stars have given us fits," defenseman Ben Lovejoy told the Ducks website following practice Friday. "They're a very good team. They have size and speed up front. They truly dominated us last game.

"We owe them one. They outplayed us. We have to come out with a significantly better effort."

Who's hot: Stars center Tyler Seguin has three goals and five assists during a four-game point streak. … Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick against Philadelphia; he has four points in his past three games and 16 in his past 12.

Injury report: Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas (broken leg) is out. … Ducks forward Nick Bonino is out for at least three games after leaving the game against Philadelphia with an upper-body injury. Defenseman Sheldon Souray (wrist surgery) is out for the season, and goaltender Viktor Fasth (lower body) hasn't played since mid-November.

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