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Stars Seek Success out West to Close First Half of Season

Monday, 01.9.2012 / 4:44 PM CT / News
By Steve Hunt
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Stars Seek Success out West to Close First Half of Season

After Saturday’s rock solid 4-1 win over Edmonton at American Airlines Center, the Dallas Stars will now hit the road for a quick, two-game road swing that will see them face fellow Pacific Division members Anaheim on Tuesday and Los Angeles on Thursday before returning home in advance of a Saturday afternoon tilt with Colorado.

So far this season, the Stars are 10-9-0 on the road and that’s success their head coach would like to see continue this week. “This road trip’s going to be a big test for us. These are four big points for us on the road,” Dallas first-year head coach Glen Gulutzan said.

The Stars are a perfect 2-0-0 against the Ducks this season, beating them 3-1 at the Honda Center back on Oct. 21, 2011 and defeating them 5-3 in Dallas on Dec. 19. Anaheim has struggled for much of the year, languishing near the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

However, the Ducks head into Tuesday’s divisional game on a two-game winning streak. Anaheim handed Columbus a 7-4 defeat on Sunday with reigning Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry delivering a hat trick in the win over the Blue Jackets.

Of course, Perry is just one player the Stars have to be cognizant of as they start the road trip on Tuesday night in Orange County.

“I like everyone with Anaheim. They’ve got those big players-Selanne, Bobby Ryan, Getzlaf, Perry, Visnovsky. They’ve got some of the elite talent in the entire league,” Gulutzan said. “It doesn’t matter what their record is. We know they’re a very good team. We’ve got to play them very hard. They’re healthy now. They got Blake back and they got Koivu back, so they’re solid. We’re just going to have to make sure we’re playing the good defensive game that we’ve talked about because they’ve got offense. They can hurt any team in this league.”

But while the Ducks are pretty healthy heading into Tuesday’s contest, the Stars have several injury issues most notably center Mike Ribeiro, who is slated to miss the first game of the trip with a knee issue.

“He’s having an MRI on his knee. Ribbie thinks he can play, which is a good sign and he finished that game, which is always a real good sign. However, for the player, his career, we’ve got to take a look at that knee,” Gulutzan said. “He won’t be a player for Tuesday but we may fly him out Wednesday into LA once we get the results of the MRI.”

On a more positive note, Tuesday’s game could mark the return of Sheldon Souray, who has missed the last six games with an ankle injury. Souray went through his first full practice on Monday and could be ready to roll against the Ducks.

“He’s very close. He’s a probable for Tuesday not necessarily but a very probable for Tuesday. I would say it’s 60/40 (in favor of him playing),” Gulutzan said. “We’re going to see how he feels tomorrow a little bit and we’ll go from there.”

Fellow defenseman Mark Fistric did not practice on Monday due to an illness, the same flu-like symptoms that plagued winger Eric Nystrom over the weekend. Fistric will travel to the west coast but is questionable for Tuesday.

“He’s sick today, straight sick. He came to the rink this morning. He wanted to ride (the bike) and try to feel a little bit better but we just sent him home because we don’t want it going around too much,” Gulutzan said. “He will travel this afternoon, so he’ll meet us at the plane. We’ll see how he feels.”

Once the Stars face the Ducks, they will then head right up the road to face the Kings at Staples Center two days later, making this short trip huge in terms of what it could mean for Dallas in the Pacific standings going forward into the second half of the season.

“Division games are always big,” Dallas captain Brenden Morrow said. “We know the teams well. Anaheim’s coming off a big game. Perry can put the puck in the net. I think he went dry for six or seven games but he’s hot again now. That makes things tougher.”

       
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