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Stargazing: Loui Eriksson's Hat Trick Helps Stars Beat Ducks, 5-3

Stargazing is a daily assortment of Dallas Stars and Texas Stars news, and whatever other random ramblings are bouncing around inside our heads.

So much for the Olympics becoming a distraction.

Loui Eriksson of Team Sweden scored three goals, Brad Richards, left off the Canadian roster had a goal and two assists, and Stephane Robidas, also jilted at the Team Canada alter had a goal and an assist. Robidas again leads the league in goals by a defenseman. He also leads all defensemen in hits with 148.

The Stars added another special New Years Eve memory to the yearly Dallas tradition: Loui Eriksson became the 4th Stars player to record a hat trick just hours before the New Year. Stars General Manager Joe Nieuwendyk last did it in 2000, and before him, Bellows in 1991, and Dino Ciccarelli in 1988.

Dallas played a game that I would classify primarily as "determined." We know the Ducks are a little banged up right now and are hurting in the goal scoring department, but the Stars really took it to them in the first period. Dallas had enough high quality scoring chances to get 10 last night. Much like Marty Turco's performance on Tuesday night against Chicago, I thought Jonas Hiller let in a couple he'd like to have back, but he was really quite good. He and his posts kept that game in reach for the Ducks for most of the game, but Dallas was just too strong on the puck (for a change).

The Stars won back to back games for the first time since before Thanksgiving, and they picked a good time to do it. They needed those two points just to hold on to their number nine "seed." They're only two points behind the Kings with one game in hand. Their 47 points would get them 5th place in the lEastern Conference.

While you're watching the Winter Classic today, be sure to follow along with SB Nation's coverage of the event, here. After you're done with Stargazing, of course.

Follow the jump for some quotes and reaction to the game last night...

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The OC Register tells it like it is:

It wasn't so much that Loui Eriksson was able to get a hat trick to power the Dallas Stars to a 5-3 victory and charge up a sellout New Year's Eve crowd Thursday night at American Airlines Center.

That was obvious.

That Eriksson and his teammates seemed to be allowed to do whatever they pleased in the offensive zone made it egregious as winger Eriksson had more chances along with seven of his team's 42 shots on Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller.

"We're this far into the season and we keep repeating the same answers in situations like this," Ducks captain Scott Niedermayer said. "A lot of it is done to ourselves. Simple mistakes that we talk about pretty much every day about how to play, how we want to defend and those types of things. We keep straying from it."

It's so nice not having to write things like this two games in a row.

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The Stars are outshooting their opponents with frequency now, once again getting 40+ at the net last night:

"We've talked a lot about winning consecutive games and getting on a run," Eriksson said. "That's something we need to do right now. We need to get on a roll."

The Stars have gotten on a bit of a roll when it comes to doing the right thing. They had 42 shots on net Thursday and have put 38 or more shots on net in five of their last 10 games.

The Stars are 5th in the league this morning at 32.3 shots per game.

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Team USA will reveal it's Olympic roster after the game this afternoon, and Mike Modano is not expected to be on it:

Team USA is the last to reveal its roster for the 2010 Olympics. It is scheduled to be done after the Winter Classic today on NBC (probably around 2:30 p.m. CST).

So will Mike Modano make it?

Most of the experts say no. The only veterans for Team USA are defenseman Brian Rafalski, C Chris Drury and RW Jamie Langenbrunner. Players such as Modano, Bill Guerin and Keith Tkachuk are expected to be on the outside. Some even have Scott Gomez left off.

There are some good young players out there, and Team USA will probably go in that direction. The centers appear to be: Paul Stastny, Chris Drury, Phil Kessel and Joe Pavelski. Having seen Pavelski tear up the Stars, he definitely deserves recognition.

It will be a sad day for me if USA Hockey moves on without Mike Modano.

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The Ducks are having the same problem the Stars do with L.A. and Phoenix. Division wins are hard to come by:

If the Ducks can’t win against the teams in their own division then how can they seriously expect to move their way up the loaded Western Conference.

They’ve saddled themselves with a 3-9-2 record within the Pacific Division following a 5-3 loss to the Dallas Stars. It is the worst divisional mark of any team in the NHL and a major reason why they sit with a 16-17-7 mark near the season’s halfway point.

Theoretically, these meetings against their rivals are more important that any other games on the schedule. The other four teams in the division – Dallas, San Jose, Phoenix and the Kings – seem to understand that.

The Ducks? Not so much. Following the sloppy loss to the Stars, Bobby Ryan tried to dissect the problem.

"I don’t think it was right from the start," Ryan said. "Somewhere along the way in between the first and second [periods], we lost a lot of composure. These games should be easy to get up for and for whatever reason, we’re not finding ways to come through."

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Our fellow SB Nation blog: Anaheim Calling:

The Ducks wasted an opportunity to inch their way back into the playoff picture by losing to a team ahead of them in the conference standings. The Ducks went ahead 2-1 early in the second period, but in a span of thirty seconds Hiller gave up a soft goal under his pads and had a puck go past him off Nick Boynton's leg. That was it for the Ducks who wouldn't find the back of the net again until the game was already well out of reach. Still, Saku Koivu had two goals and the line of Bobby Ryan-Saku Koivu-Dan Sexton continues to be dominant for the Ducks. Bad defensive play and some bad goals by Hiller, despite several phenomenal stops, simply created a hole too big for the Ducks lackluster offense to climb out of. The additions of Selanne and Getzlaf in a week will allow the Ducks to ice two scoring lines and possibly fight back towards the playoffs.

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Player Man Quotes:

Loui Eriksson:

"I kind of lost it there and I don't know what happened," Eriksson said. "I went five-hole, right between his legs. I think he kicked the puck in the net, so it was pretty lucky."

"It was a great pass," Eriksson said. "He put it on my stick, so it was a pretty easy one."

"We had two straight good games here now, and it picks our confidence a little more up," Eriksson said. "We have to keep building on that and get ready against Vancouver."

"It's huge to go and play in the Olympics for your home country, and it's going to be fun to play in Canada, too," he said. "It's going to be really crowded, and there's a lot of people going there to watch the games, so that's going to be awesome. I'm really looking forward to that."

Brad Richards:

"Loui had some great chances," Richards said. "In the second period there, I think we as a team had tons of chances, and that's why we took over the game. We could have scored more, but scoring five is a lot in this league right now and we got the win."

"We need to put some in the bank here," Richards said. "It's going to be a dogfight right to the end. There's a lot of teams in it, and we've got another big one coming up. We've got to keep our foot on the gas."

"We talk a lot about his going to the net, and that's really how he's scored most of his goals over the last two years," Richards said. "I think if you watch him, he has a combination of things that probably nobody else on this team does, and that's why he's so successful. He goes hard to the net, and he can convert those plays into goals."

Marc Crawford:

"I thought we did a great job of responding to a lot of things," Dallas coach Marc Crawford said. "I thought we really did skate, and the skating advantage that we had really showed up in the offensive zone. When we used our speed, we kept our feet moving. We created a lot of offensive chances and gave them a little trouble."

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That's it. I've gotta get to my HDTV for the Winter Classic. Have a great New Years Day, everyone. We'll see you back here on Saturday for Stars/Canucks.

P.S. How nice was it to see Mark Fistric out there banging bodies around last night? They missed that.