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DUCKS (38-31-10) at STARS (35-31-14)
Last 10 -- Anaheim 6-2-2; Dallas 5-4-1
Season series -- The Stars have picked up seven out of a possible 10 points in the season series so far with three regulation wins, an overtime loss and a regulation loss. The Ducks won the last meeting 3-1 at Anaheim on March 29.
Big story -- It's Fan Appreciation Night at American Airlines Arena, but it might as well be Mike Modano Appreciation Night because this could be the veteran's final home game in Dallas. Modano has played his entire career with the Stars organization, dating back to the 1989-90 season when they were still known as the Minnesota North Stars. He hasn't announced his retirement yet, but there is speculation that he will call it quits after this season, his 20th in the NHL.
Ducks -- Anaheim was officially eliminated Tuesday night when Colorado beat Vancouver in a shootout to take the final playoff berth in the Western Conference. The Ducks still have to play Thursday's game plus a game Friday at St. Louis and at home Sunday against Edmonton. They can finish with as many as 92 points. They made the playoffs as the eighth seed last season with 91. Anaheim blew a pair of three-goal leads to Los Angeles before falling 5-4 in a shootout on Tuesday.
"Hopefully it's real tough for everybody," captain Scott Niedermayer said. "It's a tough pill to swallow because you should not be satisfied at all with what we have done this year. We're a better team than this. I know personally that I haven't been good enough to help the team or maybe the leadership hasn't been what was needed at times in here. I could have been better and I'm sure a lot of guys can say that."
Stars -- Modano could be saying his good-byes to the fans in Dallas on Thursday along with goalie Marty Turco and forward Jere Lehtinen. All three are unrestricted free agents after the season -- and while Modano is contemplating retirement, Turco is likely to sign elsewhere with Kari Lehtonen in the mix now and Lehtinen could opt to test the market as well. Turco has been with the Stars since 2000 and Lehtinen has been in Dallas since 1995. Modano, though, has been the face of the franchise ever since it arrived in Dallas in 1993 and will likely get a huge ovation from the AmericanAirlinesCenter crowd because the mere thought that this could be his final home game should bring fans out of their chairs. He is the all-time leading scorer in franchise history and has the most points of any U.S.-born player in history.
"This could be it for me," Modano said according to ESPNDallas.com. "I'll be thinking about that."
Who's hot -- Stars center Brad Richards has points in six straight games (3-6-9) and in 17 of the 19 games he's played since the Olympic break (7-18-25). Bobby Ryan has four points in the last three games for the Ducks.
Injury report -- The Ducks report some big injuries. Center Ryan Getzlaf (ankle) has missed the last six games while goalie Jonas Hiller (back spasms) has also missed six in a row. Dallas could again be without left wing Krys Barch, who sustained a cut to the back of his leg against San Jose last Thursday.
Stat pack -- Why did Dallas and Anaheim miss the playoffs this season? Poor defense is one big reason. Both teams are in the bottom third in the League in goals-against, penalty kill, shots against and faceoff percentage.
Puck drop -- "I want to be open and honest with him and I want him to be a part of the process," Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk said in the ESPNDallas.com article on Modano. "That's what he deserves. He needs time to digest everything. There aren't any quick decisions right now. He has to take some time and think about things. When you finish a season in your late 30s, you have to reflect and look at it."