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Ducks start trip with key game in Dallas

by Pete Jensen
DUCKS (40-27-5) at STARS (38-25-9)

TV -- FS-West (HD); FS-Southwest (HD)

Last 10 -- Anaheim 8-2-0; Dallas 5-2-3

Season series -- Wednesday night marks the fifth meeting of the season between these Pacific Division rivals. The teams will play one last time during the final week of the regular season on April 3. Anaheim has won three of four games against the Stars this season, with the most recent triumph coming in wild fashion on March 4. Teemu Selanne got the game-tying goal with just over a minute remaining in regulation, and Lubomir Visnovksy followed with the winner in the final seconds of overtime to complete a hat trick and a 4-3 Ducks' win.

Big story - The Stars and Ducks enter Wednesday's game in a three-way tie with Calgary for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference -- all three have 85 points, though the Ducks have the edge on tiebreakers.

Team Scope:

Ducks -- Anaheim charges into Wednesday's meeting with Dallas on a three-game win streak and with victories in five of its last six games. Despite starting netminder Jonas Hiller playing a mere two games since Jan. 25 while battling vertigo-like symptoms, the Ducks have weathered the storm and continued strong offensive play behind newly acquired goaltenders Dan Ellis and Ray Emery.

The Ducks blew an early 3-0 lead against Calgary on Sunday, but Corey Perry rose to the occasion once again in OT to propel Anaheim to an important win. Perry scored his second overtime winner in as many games for a 5-4 win -- the Ducks' 13th consecutive home victory against the Flames. It's their longest streak against an opponent team in franchise history.

"I think Corey Perry looks at himself - and we've always stated that - as a guy you can ask for more because he has more," coach Randy Carlyle said. "He feels that responsibility that he can provide more. That's really the sign of a true elite-level player."

Stars - The Stars stumble into the final game of their seven-game homestand having lost three of their last four. All-Star forward Loui Eriksson, second on the team in points with 63, has missed the last two games with a head injury -- and Dallas has seen mixed results without him.

Last Thursday, the Stars clicked on all cylinders in a 5-0 thrashing of the defending champion Blackhawks. But on Saturday, Dallas fell behind 2-0 to the East-leading Flyers. Alex Goligoski and Stephane Robidas scored to help the Stars rally to force overtime, but Philadelphia prevailed over Dallas for the fifth straight time in a 3-2 shootout decision. The Stars went 0 for 4 on the power play against the Flyers to fall to 2 for 27 in their last eight games.

On Tuesday, Dallas announced that defenseman Brad Lukowich cleared re-entry waivers and joined the team for practice on Tuesday. Lukowich is expected to be in the lineup for the Stars against the Ducks.

Who's hot - Dallas' Jamie Benn has 10 consecutive games with at least a point, the longest active point streak in the NHL. Benn has 8 goals and 6 assists during the streak. … Perry has been on a tear in his last six games, accumulating 8 goals and 3 assists during that span. Perry has three game-winning goals in his last five games. His season total (9) in that category is a new career-high and moves him within one of Alex Ovechkin for the league lead.

Injury report - Eriksson practiced on Tuesday and is still day-to-day, according to Dallas coach Marc Crawford. Nicklas Grossman (knee), Karlis Skrastins (lacerated thigh), Adam Burish (lower body) and Brian Sutherby (back spasms) are all doubtful. … Hiller (vertigo-like symptoms) has returned to practice and accompanied the Ducks on their road trip, which continues with stops in Phoenix and Chicago. However, the Ducks aren't saying when he will be able to play again.

Stat pack - Wednesday's game features two of the top five teams in the NHL in one-goal games. Anaheim leads the league (22-8-5, .658), while the Stars are fifth (21-6-9, .583).

Puck drop - Dallas and Anaheim may be tied with Calgary for the final playoff spot in the West, but both teams hold the edge with three games in hand over the Flames. The Stars and Ducks each have 10 games remaining in the regular season, two of which are head-to-head. With the eighth seed on the line in a tight playoff race and very little room for error, neither team will be holding anything back.

"It's unbelievable how tight it is, but it's exciting," Selanne said. "Everything is in our own hands, so if you can't do it, you can only blame yourself."

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