The Anaheim Ducks have already clinched a playoff berth. Doing the same hasn't been easy for the Dallas Stars.
The Pacific Division rivals meet for the final time during the regular season Sunday at Anaheim in what could be a preview of a potential first-round playoff matchup.
While both clubs can't catch San Jose, which has already clinched the Pacific title, the two are looking to finish strong heading into the Western Conference playoffs and a possible first-round meeting.
Though Anaheim (44-27-8) had its 10-game home winning streak snapped with a 3-1 loss to the Sharks on Friday, the defending Stanley Cup champions have secured a playoff spot and look to maintain their hold on the fourth seed in the West.
"Sunday is going to be a huge game," Anaheim's Teemu Selanne told the team's official Web site. "We just have to learn something from (Friday) and do things better."
|The Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars face off tonight for the final time in the regular season but can very likely meet again in a first-round playoff matchup. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Dallas (43-29-6), fifth in the West and four points behind Anaheim in the standings, won 7-2 at last-place Los Angeles on Saturday afternoon to snap a season-high five-game losing streak.
"We need every point we can get, so we had to play it like a playoff game," said Dallas' Loui Eriksson, who scored twice in less than 3 1/2 minutes during a four-goal second period Saturday.
Dallas, 2-7-1 in March, looks to build off that victory as it continues a four-game road trip that concludes in Phoenix on Thursday before the Stars finish at home against the Coyotes and San Jose.
"This is something to build on, and we need more of the same. We're in a lockdown mode," said goaltender Marty Turco, who faced just 14 shots against the Kings. "The beauty of the whole game was not the score, but how the game went down - just the relentlessness of every period and every facet of the game. That's what we expect, really."
Stephane Robidas added a goal and two assists, while Jere Lehtinen had a goal with an assist and Mike Ribeiro contributed three assists for the Stars, who scored 17 total goals in their previous nine games this month.
Ribeiro, Lehtinen, Eriksson and Robidas have combined for nine goals and 13 assists in seven games versus Anaheim this season.
Though the Stars lead 5-2-0 in the season series, Anaheim won 2-1 in Dallas on March 19 in the teams' most recent contest.
Scott Niedermayer and Todd Bertuzzi had goals, while Selanne and Ryan Getzlaf each added two assists for the Ducks in that game. Niedermayer scored the lone goal for Anaheim in Friday's loss to the Sharks and has two and two assists in four games versus Dallas this season.
Rookie Jonas Hiller made 24 saves Friday for Anaheim and could make his fifth consecutive start Sunday and first against Dallas if the team's coaching staff again decides to rest Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who has been bothered by back spasms.