Saturday, March 10th, 2012, 7:00 PM CST
American Airlines Center
Opponent Blog: Anaheim Calling
Heading into just their second two-day break in the last month, the Dallas Stars are looking to ride their current wave of momentum and good fortune to a much needed, even if short, rest. They defeated the Sharks here on home ice Thursday night to improve to 8-0-1 in their last nine games, and 9-1-2 in their last twelve overall.
"I thought we played real gutsy," said Glen Gulutzan. "We played hard. It's not easy coming back off a road swing and getting that type of performance, but Kari Lehtonen certainly gave us an opportunity to stay in this game long enough to get two points."
The performance of which he speaks was 45 saves on 48 shots against, plus five more in the shootout to round out the even 50. The Stars are grateful for their expert netminding but hope they won't have to lean on him quite that hard again here tonight.
Dallas has a 4-1-0 record against the Ducks and have won five of the last six against them overall. Anaheim enters this one looking for miraculous life where the playoff race is concerned, their margin of error down to almost none. They dropped a 3-1 decision to St. Louis on Thursday night.
"These three games, especially (Thursday) night, could almost write our season," Jason Blake said before the loss to St. Louis. "So we gotta be ready to play."
The Stars can help write that ending for them tonight, but they might have to do it without Sheldon Souray, Steve Ott and Brenden Morrow.
Much more on each team after the jump...
You don't mess with a good thing, typically, but the 8-0-1 run aside, Dallas would like to get Brenden Morrow back in the lineup and have an opportunity to do so tonight. Steve Ott (back spasms) could also draw back in, making the group of twelve (forwards) significantly different from Thursday night's outing against the Sharks.
"I think we'll see after the morning skate where he (Morrow) is at," said Glen Gulutzan after an optional skate on Friday. "I would say Tuesday Brenden is for sure and tomorrow, we'll see after the morning skate."
If either are able to go, we'd expect to see them paired with Jamie Benn on the second line, as the Ribeiro trio with Eriksson and Ryder has been producing very well lately. It could be that both (Morrow AND Ott) play with Benn, though they've said they'd like to ease Morrow back in a little bit.
Lines in the LAST game were:
What kind of a difference could a Morrow-Benn-Ott line make instead, with Burish providing depth on the fourth line? We could find out sooner or later. Against a big, physical Ducks squad, it could be huge.
Meanwhile the defense is talking about losing people. The last time that Sheldon Souray was missing from the Stars' lineup, as well as Nick Grossman (shortly after he was traded) was for the Phoenix, Nashville and Montreal games in February. In that stretch Glen Gulutzan utilized this defensive lineup and stuck with it for all three contests, only one of which was a win (@Montreal).
Chances are we'll see something very similar Saturday, if not this exact same lineup. Souray will likely miss at least the next two games if not more. With only four call-ups possible from the Texas Stars between now and the end of the year, they'll think hard before pulling the trigger on a move to provide depth at the position.
Mark Fistric was apparently injured in the last game, as the Stars finished with just four defensemen, but x-rays on his hand were negative and he should be a game player here tonight.
The Stars will honor a purple heart recipient Saturday as part of "Stand And Solute American Heroes" night at the AAC.
The Dallas Stars and Stand & Salute American Heroes will honor a Purple Heart Recipient at Saturday's home game vs. Anaheim. The wounded combat Texas veteran, a Purple Heart recipient, SPC Daniel Bazavilvazo, was a member of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.
The Honor Event will take place at a break during the second period on Saturday.
Wally York will serve as Stand & Salute American Heroes "Boots on the Ground" for the honor. Wally York states: "Stand and Salute American Heroes takes great pride in honoring US Army Specialist Daniel Bazavilvazo March the 10th in cooperation with the Dallas Stars." [Dallasstars.com]
Kari Lehtonen will start in net.
At 68 points, tied with 13th place Minnesota, the Ducks' season is all but done, but they keep fighting. They would need to win 11 of their last 14 games with a couple of overtime losses mixed into have a chance at the end, so the writing is on the wall.
Nevertheless, you throw the records out the window when division foes meet and the Ducks bring their usual compliment of Dallas Stars-killers in Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne, Lubomir Visnovsky and the whole gang. They'll play the Stars hard regardless of seed or position.
The Duck penalty kill has taken a bit of a beating lately, giving up 10 total goals in their last nine road games, including two in each of their last two road outtings.
Anaheim is 3 of 17 on the power play in the season series. (17.6%) The Stars are 3 of 12 on the power play against the Ducks. (25%).
Anaheim went on an 8-1-3 run in February to put themselves firmly back in the mix for a time, but have since dropped four of six to St. Louis, Los Angeles, Buffalo, and Colorado. They've scored two or fewer goals in nine straight road games, going 4-4-1 in that stretch thanks to a couple of shootout wins and the masterful goaltending of Jonas Hiller, who has started 27 consecutive games in the Anaheim net.
The man backing up Hiller these days with Ellis on IR is Jeff Deslauriers, and he's played just once this year - A 5-2 win over these Dallas Stars in Anaheim on January 10th.
Their lineup from the St. Louis Game:
Dan Ellis is the only injured Duck at this time.