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Stars-Ducks Preview @NHL

The Anaheim Ducks had eight days to figure out how to get better. That may not have been long enough for Scott Niedermayer to improve.

In their first game after the All-Star break, the struggling Ducks may be without their All-Star defenseman when they continue their season series with the Dallas Stars on Sunday.

Anaheim (30-12-8) lost four straight and nine of 11 heading into the All-Star break. The Ducks' lead in the Pacific Division is down to two points over second-place San Jose, which visits Vancouver on Sunday, while the third-place Stars (29-18-2) trail by eight points.

Anaheim has been off since a 3-2 loss at Calgary on Jan. 19.

"The way things have gone, maybe that's what we need, some time to clear the head," Ducks forward Andy McDonald said. "Mentally when we come back, maybe we'll be a little more refreshed and physically this will give guys a chance to heal up from any injuries that they have."

One of the biggest injuries is to Niedermayer, who has a stress fracture in his foot. According to the Orange County Register, however, he's doubtful for Sunday's game.

Niedermayer, who scored twice against the Flames, got hurt against Nashville on Dec. 29 but continued to play. The injury, though, kept him out of the All-Star game and the team wants him to continue to rest it so it doesn't become a season-long issue.

The Ducks' last win was 5-1 over the Stars on Jan. 11 in the teams' last meeting.

"It's pretty disappointing," Niedermayer said. "We've put together a stretch of hockey here that hasn't been a lot of fun."

Anaheim is 2-0-1 against Dallas this season. The Ducks have won the last two matchups, outscoring the Stars 9-1.

Teemu Selanne had a hat trick against Dallas in the last game. He leads Anaheim with 30 goals and 59 points.

Several Stars returned from injury in the club's first game following the break, a 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh on Friday night.

All-Star Dallas defenseman Philippe Boucher had two assists after missing two games last week with a facial injury, while Sergei Zubov scored a goal after missing three games with an elbow injury.

Defenseman Steve Ott had missed 37 games with a fractured ankle, and center Jeff Halpern returned after sitting out three contests because of a bad groin.

The Stars, though, suffered their first loss in four games.

"We've had guys that have stepped up and played a lot of minutes," Boucher told the Stars' Web site, "but it was good seeing Zubie out there playing injury-free. Same thing with Halpy coming back and it was good to see Otter, those are guys that you need to have in the lineup. We need to keep improving, keep working and this team can do well."

Dallas forward Jussi Jokinen has three points (one goal, two assists) in his last four games after recording just three assists in his previous nine.

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