Bill Meltzer: Stars Gameday: 10/31/14 vs. ANA


Still looking to cut on the defensive miscues that have already cost the team a few extra points in the standings, the Dallas Stars (4-2-3) are on home ice tonight to face the Anaheim Ducks (8-3-0). Game time at the American Airlines Center is 7:30 p.m. CDT. The game will be televised locally on Fox Sports Southwest.

This is the first of three meetings this season between the teams.

This past spring, Anaheim knocked the Stars out of the Western Conference playoffs in six hard-fought games in the first round.

The Stars are coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to St. Louis. As has been the case far too often in this young season, Dallas had trouble protecting a lead. Lindy Ruff’s squad held a 3-2 lead lead in the third period but was unable to slam the door. In last year’s elimination playoff game against the Ducks, it was the same story. Anaheim trailed by two goals late in the third period, rallied to force overtime and then clinched the series in the extra frame.

Kari Lehtonen (2.90 GAA, .907 save percentage in seven starts) will get the nod in goal tonight for Dallas. He will be opposed by Fredrik Andersen (1.69 GAA, .940 save percentage, one shutout in seven outings).

Andersen has been tough for opponents to solve thus far this season, but the Stars offense is a handful for any opponent. The club has racked up 32 goals in its first nine games. The trio of Tyler Seguin (seven goals, 15 points), Jamie Benn (five goals, 11 points) and Jason Spezza (two goals, 10 assists, 12 points) has been especially lethal. Meanwhile, defenseman Trevor Daley is off to the best offensive start of his career with four goals (all on the power play) and eight points.

Twelve different Stars players have tallied at least one goal to date this season, while 10 players have at least four points. If the team defense improves even marginally and the club gets a little more consistent goaltending than it has received thus far, the Stars will be in good shape as the calendar flips to November and beyond.

On the injury front, right winger Valeri Nichushkin (hip/groin) has improved enough to be activated from the injured reserve list and sent to the AHL’s Texas Stars on a conditioning assignment. Meanwhile, veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar (ankle) remains out of the lineup and rookie defenseman Patrik Nemeth (severe forearm laceration) is lost for the season.

In their own right, the Ducks have one of the most fearsome offensive arsenals in the NHL, led by the top-line duo of Corey Perry (nine goals, 12 points) and Ryan Getzlaf (three goals, nine assists, 12 points). However, the team has been in a bit of a scoring funk this week.

The Ducks enter tonight having scored just two goals over their last three games. Last night, the club suffered a 3-0 shutout loss at the hands of the Blues.

On the Anaheim injury front, former Stars defenseman Mark Fistric (upper body) is questionable for tonight after getting hurt in last night’s game. Forwards Kyle Palmieri (ankle) and Patrick Maroon (knee) are also questionable for tonight. Defenseman Ben Lovejoy (hand injury) is out. Bryan Allen is not with the team, as he is on an AHL conditioning assigment before his impending return to the lineup.

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