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Stars attempt to cool off surging Ducks

by Dan Rosen
DUCKS (18-22-7) at STARS (24-21-2)


Last 10:
Anaheim 8-1-1; Dallas 3-6-1

Season series: This is the fourth of six meetings between the Pacific Division clubs this season. Dallas won the first two, but Anaheim beat the Stars, 5-2, two weeks ago.

Big Story:
The red-hot Ducks will look to continue their climb up the standings while the reeling Stars will try to avoid falling further down the standings. The last time these teams played, the Ducks were just starting out in their current hot streak. It was their third straight win. They lost to Calgary in overtime the following game, but have since won another five in a row.

Team Scope:

Prior to starting their 8-0-1 run on Jan. 6, the Ducks were 14th in the Western Conference and 20 points behind eighth place. They woke up Monday 13th in the conference and just 11 points behind eighth place. If they continue to make up ground at their current pace, the Ducks will be in the top eight come late February.

"It's important to finish strong before the (All-Star) break and come out of the gate the way you want to," captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "It's a big emphasis on Tuesday's game."

Getzlaf is one of the many Ducks who have been playing well. He has 7 points in the last five games. Jonas Hiller has a 1.40 goals-against average during the Ducks' five-game winning streak. He made 43 saves for a 3-2 win over Colorado on Sunday.

Bobby Ryan had 2 goals on Sunday, giving him 6 points in the five-game winning streak. Teemu Selanne has 9 points in the last nine games, giving him a team-best 45 points for the season.

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan announced Monday that captain Brenden Morrow will miss Tuesday's game with a neck injury while Mike Ribeiro "could return" to the lineup for the first time Jan. 7. Gulutzan also indicated Stephane Robidas will be a game-time decision and rookie Matt Fraser will make his NHL debut.

Gulutzan said the Stars will have to re-evaluate Ribeiro following the morning skate before making a decision on his availability. He's missed the last seven games with a knee injury.

In addition, GM Joe Nieuwendyk told the Dallas Morning News that Jamie Benn, who had an appendectomy on Jan. 15 and hasn't played since, will be in Ottawa this coming weekend to represent the Stars at the 2012 Tim Hortons NHL All-Star Game.

Benn, who is on injured reserve, will not play Tuesday, but according to the report, Nieuwendyk said it will be good for Benn to experience All-Star Weekend and it will also ensure he will skate through the break.

Nieuwendyk expects Benn to be available for the Stars' first post-break game on Feb. 1 at Anaheim.

Who's Hot:
Ryan's 2 goals in Sunday's win give him 4 in the last five games and 19 for the season, including 9 in the 13 games since Christmas. Hiller has allowed only eight goals in his last six games (5-0-1).

Injury Report:
The Ducks are still without backup goalie Dan Ellis (groin), rookie forward Devante Smith-Pelly (fractured foot) and defenseman Matt Smaby (thumb surgery). … The Stars will be without Morrow and Benn. Robidas is questionable. Ribeiro is expected to play, but still needs to get through the morning skate.

Stat Pack:
In their last nine games, the Ducks are averaging 4.00 goals-per-game. In their previous 38 games this season, the Ducks were averaging 2.29 goals-per-game. Anaheim is 8-0-1 in its last nine games after going 10-22-6 in its first 38.

Puck Drop: "Anyone who's been here has known that we've started slow in a lot of years and this is the worst," Getzlaf said. "But we've just got to keep playing. Every day is a new day for us and a new day that we can play and try and get back in this thing."

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