Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau doesn't deny there are other worthy candidates for the Hart Trophy, but he's made it pretty clear he believes Ryan Getzlaf deserves a significant reward for helping lead the team's resurgence.
The Dallas Stars' playoff push, meanwhile, will have to come with a much different roster following the trade deadline.
Anaheim looks move closer to the Pacific Division title Friday night by sweeping its three-game mini-series with Dallas.
The Ducks (25-7-5) are within striking distance of Western Conference-leading Chicago and hold an 11-point edge on second-place San Jose in the Pacific.
Getzlaf, who signed an eight-year, $66 million contract extension March 8, has been a major reason Anaheim is much improved after a disappointing 80-point campaign in 2011-12.
The veteran captain is among the league leaders in assists (30) and points (43) in 37 games after finishing with just 57 points in 82 contests last season. Getzlaf scored and had two assists in Wednesday's 5-2 win over the Stars after posting two assists in a 4-0 victory at Dallas on Monday.
"I listen to a lot of media, and a lot of people all talk about another guy back east about MVP," Boudreau said, referring to Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby. "I don't know if anybody's been more important to their team than (Getzlaf)."
Getzlaf did not practice Thursday after suffering a lower-body injury in Wednesday's win but is expected to play.
The Stars, meanwhile, traded many of their top contributors before Wednesday's deadline. They dealt longtime captain Brenden Morrow to Pittsburgh on March 24 and shipped Derek Roy to Vancouver on Tuesday. Leading scorer Jaromir Jagr then was traded to Boston on Wednesday.
Despite the subtractions and dropping three straight games, Dallas (16-17-3) is still in the playoff hunt.
"Teams that make trades and do the sell-off are so tough to play down the stretch,'' Boudreau said. ''Experience tells me when you bring in a lot of new guys, young guys especially, they play with so much energy.
"To beat any team three times in a row is difficult, but we're going to try.''
Winger Alex Chiasson made his NHL debut in Wednesday's loss, and 23-year-old forward Lane MacDermid scored his first career goal in his ninth NHL game after coming over in the Jagr trade.
"I thought all the guys had a lot of energy and tried to do all the little things right and I think we did that for the most part," MacDermid said.
Chiasson said it was good to get his first game out of the way.
"We battled hard and if we could have put a couple in in the first maybe it would have changed the outcome of the game," Chiasson said. "This was a tough loss, but we've got to look forward and keep grinding."
Dallas' holdovers, though, weren't pleased. The Stars have been outscored 12-4 during their losing streak and allowed an average of 4.4 goals over their last five.
''It's tough to find the good stuff in a loss like that,'' defenseman Stephane Robidas said. ''There are a lot of new faces, young guys that had their first experience with us.''
Kari Lehtonen hasn't been playing very well in net lately. He's 0-4-0 while posting a 3.87 goals-against average over his last five starts.
It's unclear if Anaheim will go with rookie Viktor Fasth in net for a third straight meeting after making 26 saves Monday and 23 on Wednesday. Fasth's 2.13 GAA is among the league's leaders.
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