Things don't get easier tonight for the beleaguered Dallas Stars as they head across town to Disneyland and the Anaheim Ducks, who are very hot right now having won five in a row. A hard battle with the L.A. Kings last night leaves the Stars seething and perhaps a little fatigued for the 9:00pm CST puck drop on Fox Sports Southwest Plus.
The first meeting with the Ducks did not go as Dallas had planned. The Stars dominated early portions of that game but Jonas Hiller stood tall, turning away 13 of 14 first period shots to keep the game within reach. Penalty trouble for the Ducks turned out to be no trouble at all (not unlike last night as the Stars power play has faltered in these division games) and Anaheim was able to break things open in the second period. The final score of 5-2 was not indicative of the effort as Dallas out-shot them 37-26.
Including that game, the Ducks have won six of their last eight and are in a stretch of their schedule that sees them play 13 of 19 games at Honda Center.
Tonight wraps up a quick two game set out West for the Stars who will have three MORE days off after this one. They will have played only two games, back to back for some reason, in a nine day span. A win would make this break a little more bearable for all of us, wouldn't you say?
More after the jump...
After encouraging us all by winning three of their first four games on the road (all against the Eastern Conference) the Stars have dropped their first two Western Conference road games by a combined score of 8-1 against the Avalanche and Her Majesty's Royal Diving Team of Los Angeles. It's not clear whether the players differentiate the difficulties of playing the West vs the East, but a win tonight would go a long way to allay some of our apprehensions.
Kari Lehtonen has played back to back once before this season in their opening back-to-back weekend against the Devils and Islanders. Having a break on either side of that set (as with this one) allowed Crawford to ride his best netminder without fears of overuse and that could be the case tonight as well. As of this writing we have not heard who will be in net.
Dallas' 74.1% penalty kill will be put to the test tonight as the Ducks boast a stout 21.4% power play and it's even better at home: 25.7%! So watch out for that.
Krys Barch played last night so you can bet Sutherby will be back in tonight with Segal and Petersen. No word on whether Woywitka will be in or not.
Winners of five straight, the Ducks have gone from a bit of a laughing stock in the first week of the season to beating good teams with regularity. They've beaten the Sharks in San Jose in this stretch and have also taken out the Pens and red-hot Lightning. Their last outing was a home game with the Islanders that saw them get pretty badly out shot but still win 1-0, so even when they're off their game their goaltending is bailing them out.
In short, they're finding ways to win games every night and the Stars are not.
They've moved all the way up to 5th place in the conference at 9-7-1 and are 7-1 when they score the first goal. The Stars do have three games in hand on them.
The Ducks were 2-1-0 at Honda Center against Dallas last season.
Injury Report: Nothing current for Dallas, but Anaheim defenseman Sheldon Brookbank is day-to-day with a hamstring injury and there's a lengthy list of players on injured reserve -- defenseman Andy Sutton (hand) and forwards Joffrey Lupul (back), Jason Jaffray (knee), Dan Sexton (nasal surgery), Matt Beleskey (concussion) and Kyle Chipchura (concussion).
All our favorites will be in the lineup.