A top seed vs. a No. 8 seed usually is a formality — there was a notable exception involving the Kings two years ago — but Dallas has won two of three games against the Ducks this season. The Oct. 20 opener was the Ducks' lone victory, as they overcame a 3-1 deficit with two Corey Perry goals and a shutout relief appearance by rookie goalie Frederik Andersen in his NHL debut, winning 6-3, after forward Ryan Garbutt launched himself at former Ducks forward Dustin Penner, who suffered a concussion on the hit. Garbutt was suspended. On Nov. 26 in Dallas, the Ducks led, 2-1, in the third period but surrendered three goals in a 53-second span. The Stars won, 2-0, at Honda Center on Feb. 1 in one of the Ducks' most lifeless efforts, as ex-Duck goalie Dan Ellis stopped all 26 shots he saw to hand Anaheim its first shutout loss in 71 games.
DUCKS OFFENSE VS. STARS DEFENSE: Anaheim, paced by first-line stars Ryan Getzlaf and Perry, produced a franchise-record goals total this season, ranking behind only the Chicago Blackhawks for most in the NHL. The Stars' unit is anchored by Alex Goligoski (24 minutes-plus average ice time).
DUCKS DEFENSE VS. STARS OFFENSE: The recent return from a knee injury by Cam Fowler steadies a unit that's further enhanced by the institutional knowledge of Dallas in the mind of March Ducks' acquisition Stephane Robidas. Center Tyler Seguin and forward Jamie Benn are Dallas' scoring leaders.
GOALIES: What Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau will do in net is a mystery as he weighs the sudden impact of rookie John Gibson, the 20 wins of rookie Andersen and playoff experience of Jonas Hiller. Bet on Andersen in Game 1. Hiller hasn't played since April 6 and has lost three straight and Gibson played Sunday. Dallas' Kari Lehtonen (33-20-10) has been the constant. The Stars have veteran Tim Thomas, too.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Ducks have suffered through long scoring lapses on the power play, ranked 22nd in the NHL, but better than 24th-ranked Dallas. The Stars are 22nd in penalty killing, while the Ducks' late-season success (28 of 31 before Sunday) places them 14th.
HOME ICE: The Ducks were the last NHL team to lose a home game in regulation, going 20-0-2 before a Jan. 21 loss to Winnipeg. They closed near .500 at Honda Center, finishing with a club-record victory total. Dallas was 23-11-7 at home.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times