Posted January 09, 2012 on AP on Fox
The Dallas Stars' defense carried the club to its best start in five seasons. After a rough patch, the Stars' defensive unit appears to be clicking once more. The lowly Anaheim Ducks, meanwhile, hope their season is turning around following a rare set of back-to-back wins. Dallas looks to extend its point streak to seven games over Anaheim in this Pacific Division matchup Tuesday night. After giving up more than two goals just three times during its 11-3-0 start, Dallas (23-16-1) surrendered three or more 16 times during a 10-13-1 stretch from Nov. 11- Jan. 3. The Stars, though, have won their last two games by 4-1 margins, successfully killing all five penalties in the victories. "I thought defensively, we were a little bit better today over the Nashville game (on Thursday) and that's the way we need to trend, that's what this team has to do," coach Glen Gulutzan said following Saturday's victory over Edmonton. It's uncertain who will be in goal for Dallas as it goes for its third straight victory over the Ducks this season and third in a row in Anaheim. The Stars are 4-0-2 in the last six meetings. Kari Lehtonen, a late scratch Saturday with the flu, missed the previous matchup against the Ducks - a 5-3 home win Dec. 19 with a groin injury. He made 35 saves in a 3-1 victory at Anaheim on Oct. 21. Rookie Richard Bachman, who stopped 25 shots against the Oilers, made the same number of saves last month versus Anaheim in his first home start. Whoever is in net will face a Ducks team that's scored 11 times in its last two contests. Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne lead Anaheim (12-22-6) with three apiece during this stretch. Perry notched his fourth career hat trick, and Selanne found the back of the net twice Sunday in a 7-4 victory over league-worst Columbus that prevented the Ducks from falling into the NHL cellar. Anaheim is 14th in the Western Conference, 17 points behind the Stars. "Where we are is unacceptable," said Perry, who has three goals and 10 points in his last nine games versus Dallas. "... We've had two great games, but we have to keep pushing and doing the right things.'' The Ducks' last three-game winning streak was a 4-0-0 run from Oct. 8-17 that gave the club its best start (4-1-0) since its Stanley Cup-winning season of 2006-07. The Stars ended that streak Oct. 21 behind two goals from Loui Eriksson and one from Mike Ribeiro. Eriksson and Ribeiro share the team lead with two goals versus Anaheim this season, but no Star is playing better than Jamie Benn right now. The third-year forward, named the NHL's first star of the week Monday, has four consecutive multi-point games after scoring twice Saturday. The Ducks would like to have Jonas Hiller in net after backup Dan Ellis suffered a groin injury in practice on Saturday, but it's uncertain if Hiller be ready after leaving in the first period Sunday with an undisclosed lower-body injury. If Hiller can't go, Finnish rookie Iiro Tarkki could make his first NHL start after stopping seven of 10 shots against the Blue Jackets to win his debut. Coach Bruce Boudreau told the Ducks' official Twitter account Monday that Jeff Deslauriers is a possible call-up if Hiller doesn't respond well to treatment. Selanne, who has 38 goals and 80 points in 89 games versus Dallas, will become the 52nd player in NHL history to appear in 1,300 games.
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