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Ducks, Stars both missing key players

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- When the Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars hit the ice at American Airlines Center on Thursday, both clubs will be without key players.

Anaheim will be without its second-leading scorer, Corey Perry, as he begins serving a four-game suspension for an illegal check on the Minnesota Wild's Jason Zucker in a 2-1 win at Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday.

"Yeah, four games are a lot. What are we going to do?" Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "There's nothing I can do. It's done with and I don't think Brendan [Shanahan, NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety] is going to phone us and say, 'Geez, you guys are good guys. We're going to make it two [games],' so we just have to drop it and go without him for four games."

Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan, whose team will be without top-line center Jamie Benn (wrist) and captain Brenden Morrow (groin) for a second straight game, took a tongue-in-cheek approach when discussing Perry's absence from the Anaheim lineup.

"Glad that Corey Perry's out," Gulutzan said. "Obviously a great player. Glad everybody's OK. But [they're a] big, strong team less one big, strong, skilled player. We're down one ourselves with Jamie Benn out."

It looks like Boudreau will plug Teemu Selanne into his top line, alongside Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf. While Boudreau has the luxury of replacing one All-Star with another, the veteran coach views the change the same way he would any other alteration to his lineup.

"I really don't worry about it too much. I just expect whoever goes in for him to be as good as the player that goes out," Boudreau said. "Usually they play well for a while and it drops off a bit. But at the beginning, usually it works out."

Anaheim will start Jonas Hiller in goal for a third straight game, while Kari Lehtonen will be between the pipes for Dallas for a sixth consecutive game. Gulutzan said he will go with the same lineup he used in a 4-0 loss Tuesday to the Nashville Predators, but with one minor exception. Philip Larsen, who has been injured or scratched the past seven games, comes back into the defensive rotation for rookie Jamie Oleksiak.

With Selanne promoted to the first line, Boudreau likely will have Daniel Winnik on the second line and Emerson Etem on the third line, while Kyle Palmieri, who has missed the past five games with an upper-body injury, figures to return and skate on the fourth line.

Gulutzan did say Benn and Morrow could be possibilities for Saturday, when the NHL-leading Chicago Blackhawks visit Dallas.

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