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Stars Ready for Another Physical Battle With Ducks in Game 4

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

After Monday night’s 3-0 win over Anaheim, the Dallas Stars didn’t seemed too concerned about comments from the Ducks, who said the Stars crossed the line physically in the game. The Stars still weren’t concerned Tuesday afternoon and said nothing will change going forward.

“We’re not going to change our game just because some of the stuff they’re saying,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “We want to play the same way. We’re going to focus in on their top guys and find a way to shut them down.”

Monday’s game featured 64 hits, 58 penalty minutes and some big scrums. The Ducks weren’t thrilled that Antoine Roussel threw some punches at their captain Ryan Getzlaf, who is wearing a cage to protect a facial injury. Stars coach Lindy Ruff saw it as Roussel defending himself and shrugged it off as the Ducks trying to sway the officials.

“I didn’t see anything go over the line. I really didn’t. I watched almost every physical situation,” Ruff said. “That might be a public outcry – lobbying for more penalties. Bruce [Boudreau] is a good coach. I saw Trevor Daley get shoved in the back and turn around and respond to it. I saw Roussel - might have been a light wash to the face but it wasn’t a punch until he got hit with six punches. This time of a series, there’s some lobbying sometimes, but I really expected this series to get even more physical. I think they are going to try to be harder on our guys and our guys are going to be ready for them. We’re going to try to be harder on their guys. I don’t think we crossed the line in any means. Not at all.”

Welcome to the playoffs, and with the Stars’ victory Monday night the series has ramped up a few levels. It’s a 2-1 series now and it’s going to get even more intense moving forward.

“I think [the dynamic] has changed,” said Ruff. “We were down 2-0. We needed some utter desperation and I think that I asked our guys to dig deep because they had us in a place where they could put a finishing touch on us. We knew that we were going to have to push back and I think we did. As any series goes on, the emotions and the physical play starts to ramp up. I fully expected the emotions to be running high on both sides.”

Emotions will be running high again high in Game 4 on Wednesday at American Airlines Center with the Stars having a chance to tie the series and turn it into a best-of-three, and the Ducks with an opportunity to take a commanding 3-1 lead. The Stars liked the way they played Monday, but know there is still room for improvement. They gave up 37 shots on goal, and put the Ducks on the power play five times

“Obviously, we don’t want to give up 40 shots a night, but if we can limit some of the shots,” said Benn. “I thought we played a pretty good game overall though. We controlled the whole ice. We took care of the puck and Kari [Lehtonen] was able to make some saves.”

“I think that’s our goal, is to try to continue to get better,” said Ruff. “I thought our Game 2 was probably a better game structure wise than Game 3. Game 3, we had to spend a lot of time killing penalties which really hurt kind of the rhythm of the game, so that’s an area that we’d like to clean up too.”

Dillon skates, long shot for Wednesday

Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon, who has missed the first games of the series with a lower body injury, took part in Tuesday’s optional practice in Frisco. It was the first time Dillon has skated with the team since suffering the injury on the final weekend of the regular season.

Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Dillon is making progress, but remains a long shot to play in Wednesday’s game.

“He’s moving along. He’s getting closer for us. I think, if he keeps progressing, he has a chance here pretty soon to have an opportunity to get in for us,” Ruff said. “I think anything is a possibility. I think Game 4 is a long shot, unless he walks in my office and demands it, which I could hope could happen, but I’m not banking on it.”

Robidas reaction

The injury to Ducks defenseman and former Star Stephane Robidas in Monday night’s game was still a topic of conversation at Tuesday’s Stars practice in Frisco.

Robidas suffered a fractured leg in the second period of the game when he collided with Stars forward Ryan Garbutt. It was the second time this season that Robidas had suffered a fractured leg, the first time back in November when he was a member of the Stars.

“That’s a heartbreaker. He’s a first-class guy. To suffer basically the same injury twice and to know how hard he worked to even come back and play,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I think if it’s any other player in this league, or 9 out of 10, they don’t play this year. But he was in here every day, a week out of surgery, and he’s mentally getting himself ready and trying to stay ahead of the curve, which I think he did for the most part. For that to happen again, you don’t want to see that happen to anyone, especially a guy of his stature and the type of character Stephane is. That was a tough one to see.”

“It sucks. He’s such a great player, great teammate and a great guy,” said Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon. “He’s been playing really well for them. He was definitely missed from our group. You don’t want to see that happen to anybody, especially to a close friend and a guy I got to know really well. We wish him nothing but the best and we know he is going to come back even stronger.”

“I felt bad,” said Garbutt. “I didn’t really notice at the time how bad he was hurt, but after the game I was definitely feeling for him. Hopefully he has a speedy recovery.”

Ducks watch

Coming off Monday’s 3-0 loss and the perception that the Stars crossed the line physically in the game, the Ducks were talking about how they would respond in Game 4 on Wednesday.

“If you’re not going to make them pay when they’re doing things, automatically they’re going to keep doing things because they have no fear of you,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “So, to me the biggest thing is to score some goals.”

“Score goals and win the game,” said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. “Obviously, we’ve got to go out and compete harder than they’re going to compete within the rules of the game and play hard. It’s a tough league. It’s tough to win in the playoffs. We know that. We’re well aware of what we need to do.

“We need to up our level of our game. We need to compete a little bit harder. Get to that net a little bit harder and create some stuff around their crease so their goalie is not so comfortable. And that involves getting in there, screening, getting second shots.”

The Ducks had 37 shots on goal and five power plays Monday night, but nothing to show for it. No goals, no win.

“We’ve got to be smart but I think everyone’s got to dig deep here,” said Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano. “There’s a lot more, a lot of room for us to play harder. The bottom line is they played hard last night, they got under guys’ skin, they played playoff hockey and I don’t think we did that.

I think we played a regular season game last night and talking for myself first and foremost, we need to bear down and come to the rink ready to battle, ready to fight hard and we’ll go from there.”

The Ducks will need to make a change on defense with Stephane Robidas out with a fractured leg. Former Star Mark Fistric and Luca Sbisa are in the mix to fill the void.

“Sbisa hasn’t played a lot this year, but he’s a proven NHL guy. Mark Fistric just finished his rehab stint and I’m glad he did because that makes him eligible. We could still call Sammy [Vatanen] back [from Norfolk of the AHL]. We have options,” said Boudreau. “We hate losing Robi because he was a real steady force back there. The thing about this team is we’ve rebounded from injuries all year.”

Quotable: Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf on if the Stars are trying to get into his head

“I don’t know about get in my head. I don’t have room for them to get in my head. Trust me, I got enough [stuff] going on. Those are things that obviously we deal with and keep playing and the best way to respond is to put together a good hockey game tomorrow and put ourselves in a good situation to win the series.”

Quotable: Stars forward Antoine Roussel on his scrum with Getzlaf in Monday’s game

“I just tried to prevent a goal and emotions got in the way I guess.”

Series Schedule

(Anaheim leads series 2-1)

Game 1: Wed, April 16, Dallas at Anaheim: Ducks 4, Stars 3

Game 2: Fri, April 18, Dallas at Anaheim: Ducks 3, Stars 2

Game 3: Mon, April 21, Anaheim at Dallas: Stars 3, Ducks 0

Game 4: Wed, April 23, Anaheim at Dallas, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Southwest/CNBC/TSN

Game 5: Fri, April 25, Dallas at Anaheim, 9:30 p.m., Fox Sports Southwest/NBC Sports Network/TSN

*Game 6: Sun, April 27, Anaheim at Dallas, TBD, Fox Sports Southwest/TSN

*Game7: Tue, April 29, Dallas at Anaheim, TBD, Fox Sports Southwest/TSN

*If necessary

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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