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Stars upbeat despite two-game deficit vs. Ducks

by Steve Hunt

FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Stars trail their best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series against the Anaheim Ducks 2-0, but the Stars don't sound like a team trailing in a series.

"To be honest, we feel good," Stars rookie right wing Alex Chiasson said after practice Sunday. "Of course, it's not the outcome that we were looking for, but you look at the progression, I think we all played them better in Game 2. Few mistakes that cost us a couple goals, but we're back home."

The Ducks won 4-3 in Game 1 on Wednesday and 3-2 on Friday in Game 2. Game 3 will be Monday at American Airlines Center (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN, KDOC, TXA 21), a building where Dallas was 8-1-1 over its final 10 games of the regular season.

The game starts about an hour later than most Stars home games, but Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski, who won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, feels that a later start time could work to the Stars' advantage.

"I think it'll actually kind of be nice because we're still kind of programmed for the West Coast right now with our sleep and everything. It might kind of help that way," he said.

The Stars practiced for a little more than an hour at their facility Sunday morning. Coach Lindy Ruff said he believes the Stars are in a great spot not only as the series shifts back to home ice, but also from an emotional standpoint, even though this is the first taste of Stanley Cup Playoff hockey for many of his players.

"Well, the mood is good. There's some disappointment there, but the mood of the team is good," Ruff said. "Both games, we fought hard. We just didn't quite get it done."

One reason why the Stars are not dwelling on trailing the Ducks is because Ruff has seen measurable progress from his team over the first two games, and he expects to see an even better performance on home ice in Game 3.

"I think that we've got a lot of players that have been able to experience some playoff hockey. Now, it's doing a couple things a little bit better, a little bit more desperation, maybe a few more blocks, harder around the front of the net," Ruff said. "I still think some of the 50-50 battles were theirs. They got to be ours."

For Dallas captain Jamie Benn and many of his teammates, this will be their first time to experience what figures to be a raucous playoff atmosphere in their home arena, something the Stars are clearly looking forward to seeing firsthand.

"I'm expecting a pretty loud barn," Benn said. "I'm sure it's going to be sold out, and it's going to be a lot of fun to play in front of them."

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