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Ducks try to end Stars' hex

by John Kreiser

DUCKS (19-3-3) at STARS (12-3-3)

TV: PRIME; FS-Southwest

Last 10: Anaheim 7-1-2; Dallas 4-5-1

Season series: It's the second of five meetings - the others take place consecutively on April 1 in Dallas and April 3-5 in Anaheim. The Stars are one of three teams to beat the Ducks in regulation; they won 3-1 at American Airlines Center on Feb. 8. Dallas has won the past four games between the teams and seven of the past eight.

Big story: Anaheim comes to Dallas for the middle game of a three-game road trip after stealing a 2-1 win against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, its fourth victory in a row. But the Ducks arrive without one of their top guns; Corey Perry was handed a four-game suspension by the NHL for an illegal hit that knocked Wild forward Jason Zucker out of Tuesday's game. Dallas opened a four-game homestand with a clunker, a 4-0 loss to the Nashville Predators in which the Stars were never really in the game.

Team Scope:

Ducks: Anaheim continues to find ways to win. The Ducks were outshot 22-7 through the first two periods in St. Paul, but outshot the Wild 14-9 in the third and got goals from fourth-liner Patrick Maroon (his second of the season) and defenseman Luca Sbisa (his first) to escape with a 2-1 win.

Goaltender Jonas Hiller, who got the start after Viktor Fasth was injured at the morning skate, made 30 saves and kept his team in the game during the first 40 minutes.

"You have to kind of be honest with yourself -- I don't think we played to the standard that we have to play on a nightly basis," Sbisa said. "We weren't happy with the way things were going, but we reacted to it."

Stars: Dallas continues to struggle at home. Tuesday's loss to the Predators dropped the Stars to 5-5-1 at home; they've dropped four of their past six in their own building. Dallas has fallen to 11th in the West, though the Stars are two points out of the last Stanley Cup Playoff spot.

They know they can't afford many more performances like the one they gave Tuesday.

"You have to take care of your games at home," forward Ray Whitney, who returned to the lineup after missing 16 games with a broken foot, told the Stars' website. "It's a tough schedule right now, and everybody's going to have a big homestand at some point with the amount of games we're playing. And you're not going to make the playoffs if you don't play better at home and use that to your advantage."

Who's hot: Hiller is 6-0-1 with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage in his past seven starts. Captain Ryan Getzlaf was held off the scoresheet in Minnesota but still has nine points in his past five games. … Stars forward Jaromir Jagr, who turned 41 last month, has five goals in the past five games.

Injury report: The Ducks are without Nick Bonino (flu), Kyle Palmieri (upper body) and Brad Staubitz (face); all are on injured reserve. Fasth (upper body) missed the game in Minnesota. … Dallas is again expected to be without forward Jamie Benn (wrist); he's doubtful. Captain Brenden Morrow (groin) has missed two games; coach Glen Gulutzan said Wednesday he'll decide on Morrow's availability after the morning skate. Defenseman Aaron Rome (foot) is still sidelined.

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