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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, April 25th (All times Eastern)
Dallas Stars (2-2) at Anaheim Ducks (2-2), 10:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Anaheim Ducks hope a return to home ice for Friday's Game 5 will be enough to stop the bleeding in their Western Conference quarterfinal series against a feisty Dallas Stars team.
Anaheim, champions of the Pacific Division and the top-seed in the West, claimed a 2-0 lead in this best-of-seven set with wins in Games 1 and 2 in Orange County. However, the Ducks were shut out, 3-0, in Monday's meeting in Dallas and the Stars then evened the series at two games apiece with Wednesday's 4-2 home decision.
The Ducks hope getting back inside the Honda Center, where the club boasted a 29-8-4 record during the regular season, will put them back on the right track.
"It's a best of three right now," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said after the Game 4 loss. "We fought awfully hard this year to get home ice advantage, and I think we had the second best home record in the league, so we're going home and we're going to be glad to be home."
If home-ice advantage doesn't work, however, Anaheim could be headed for its second straight upset loss in the opening round of the playoffs. The Ducks were seeded second in the West last spring only to fall in seven games to the Detroit Red Wings in Round 1.
Anaheim led the Stars 2-0 after the first period on Wednesday before Dallas scored four unanswered goals to knot the series at 2-2. The Stars scored twice in the second period to even the game and Cody Eakin provided the eventual game-winner at 6:22 of the third. Alex Goligoski scored 82 seconds after Eakin to arrive at the final margin of victory.
Vernon Fiddler had a goal and an assist for the Stars, while captain Jamie Benn also scored in the victory. Kari Lehtonen, who made 37 saves to anchor a 2-0 win in Game 3, stopped 21-of-23 shots to post the victory on Wednesday.
"It is obviously what we wanted," Benn said. "It wasn't fun being down 2-0, they won their home games and we won ours, the next one is going to be huge, it's going to be hard to win. They are a good team in their own barn and we want to find a way to keep this thing going."
Bryan Allen and Patrick Maroon scored for the Ducks. Frederik Andersen turned aside 21-of-25 shots before being pulled in the third period for Jonas Hiller.
Hiller could make his 21st career playoff start on Friday. The 32-year-old Swiss netminder entered this season as Anaheim's No. 1 option in net, but a rough patch in the latter stages of 2013-14 prompted Boudreau to go with the rookie Andersen as the starter heading into the playoffs.
Andersen has a 3.17 goals against average and .898 save percentage in his first NHL postseason. Hiller boasts a 2.29 GAA and .935 save percentage over 21 career playoff games.
Boudreau wasn't revealing his Game 5 starter on Thursday.
"It was important (Hiller) played," Boudreau said. "Whether he's going to start tomorrow, it was important that he's already seen playoff ice and not coming in blind."
Ducks forward Teemu Selanne, who is playing his final NHL season, was a healthy scratch for Game 4, but the 43-year-old future Hall of Famer could be re-inserted into the lineup on Friday.
Although Anaheim lost defenseman Stephane Robidas for the season due to a fractured right leg suffered in Game 3, the Ducks carry an even bigger injury concern into Game 5 with the uncertain status of forward Ryan Getzlaf.
Anaheim's captain missed Wednesday's game with an unspecified upper-body injury and his availability for Game 5 is unclear. On Thursday, Getzlaf said he was confident his team can get by without him in the lineup, but also was hopeful he could play in tonight's game .
"We have guys who have stepped up and played big roles during the year, and we may need that tomorrow again," said Getzlaf. "But hopefully I can play tomorrow."
Getzlaf finished second to Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby in the NHL scoring race this season, recording 87 points on 31 goals and 56 assists. Despite missing Game 4, Getzlaf is leading Anaheim in both goals (2) and assists (2) in this series. The 28-year-old centerman has 63 points (23 goals, 40 assists) over 72 career postseason games.
The Stars are hoping to get defenseman Brenden Dillon into the lineup Friday for the first time in this series. Dillon, who has been sidelined with a lower-body issue, is questionable for Game 5. The 23-year-old blueliner had six goals and 11 assists over 80 games during the regular season, but has never skated in an NHL playoff game.
Game 6 of this series is scheduled for Sunday in Dallas. If needed, a decisive seventh meeting will be hosted by Anaheim on Tuesday.
04/25 10:47:22 ET
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