Ducks-Stars Preview

The Associated Press

The Anaheim Ducks just keep on winning - even if they're not necessarily playing their best hockey.

They hope to carry that success into a series in which they've recently struggled as they go on the road to face the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.

Dallas has won four straight against Anaheim by a 12-3 score and has taken seven of the last eight meetings, including a 3-1 home victory Feb. 8.

The Stars, though, are coming off an ugly opener to a four-game homestand while the Ducks are rolling after a come-from-behind win to begin a three-game trip.

Anaheim (19-3-3) owns the NHL's second-best record and has shown little sign of slowing down, winning its last four games while allowing only three goals. It seemed as though the run might end Tuesday as the Ducks trailed entering the third period at Minnesota, but Pat Maroon and Luca Sbisa scored in what turned out to be a 2-1 victory that provided the club with even more confidence.

"We found a way to score," said goaltender Jonas Hiller, who started after Viktor Fasth suffered an upper-body injury during the morning skate. "That's what makes this team strong right now. We can win even when we don't play well."

Anaheim also trailed in the third period Sunday but scored three goals in the final 17 minutes to beat St. Louis 4-2.

Hiller made 29 saves in that win and 30 on Tuesday. He's 6-0-1 with a 1.96 goals-against average in his past seven starts.

The Ducks average a Western Conference-leading 3.3 goals and get contributions from many players, with 11 accounting for five or more goals. Maroon scored a day after he was recalled from the minors, and Sbisa's game-winner with 3:04 to play was his first goal of the season.

"It took me awhile. Hopefully they will come at a quicker pace now," Sbisa said. "It definitely felt good to get that first one out of the way."

The Stars (12-11-2) had an ugly first game to their homestand Tuesday, falling 4-0 to Nashville.

Dallas, at the bottom of the Pacific Division, joins Edmonton as the only West teams which aren't above .500 at home. The Stars have lost four of six in Dallas and are 5-5-1 there overall.

"You have to take care of your games at home," Ray Whitney told the team's website Tuesday following his first game after missing 16 with a broken foot. Dallas' next two games are against the league's top teams, hosting Chicago on Saturday after facing Anaheim.

"It's a tough schedule right now and everybody's going to have a big homestand at some point with the amount of games we're playing. And you're not going to make the playoffs if you don't play better at home and use that to your advantage."

The Stars had scored at least three goals in 13 of 14 games before the last two, during which they've had one goal on 53 shots. Injuries may be taking a toll on the offense, as captain Brenden Morrow (groin) has missed the last two games and Jamie Benn (wrist) sat out Tuesday.

Both could miss Thursday's game, too.

Anaheim's offense will definitely be short-handed. Corey Perry, whose 24 points are second on the Ducks, was suspended four games for his elbow to the head of Minnesota's Jason Zucker on Tuesday.

It's not the first such suspension for Perry, who had to sit out four games in 2009 for elbowing Philadelphia's Claude Giroux.

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