The long-lasting Easter weekend is finally over, and so is the break in the series between the Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars. Each team has not played since game two on Friday, which Anaheim won 3-2 to take a 2-0 series lead, and are eager to get back at it. The series shifts to Dallas for game three tonight. Here are some headlines to keep an eye on for game three.
TURN IT UP, DON’T TURN IT OVER
The Stars return home after losing two close games in Anaheim to start the series. They lost game one 4-3, and game two 3-2. It was painfully obvious that the genesis of all 7 goals scored by the Ducks, was a Stars players’ bad decision. The turnovers, bad passes, and uncharacteristic decisions by many of the Stars top players, are what doomed them in each of the first two games. These mental lapses can potentially be chalked up to nervousness or even intimidation. Tonight, that has the potential to all change. The Stars have a couple playoff games under their belt and will also have the benefit of a sold out American Airlines Centre behind them. The crowd makes a difference in all sporting events, but the noise made by fans in the Stanley Cup Playoffs is next level. The arena will be packed with 18,000+ fans and is sure to shake the ice in the Stars favour. Now it is up to the team to deliver!
All teams who start the playoffs on the road are a little bit intimidated. Whether they admit that or not, the home crowd is a major factor in aiding the success of home teams. The Dallas Stars will gain this benefit when they return to home ice tonight. They were excellent down the stretch at the AAC, going 10-2-2 in their last twelve home games. With the added support of the home crowd, also comes the familiarity of waking up in your own bed, cooking your own food, and preparing the way you know how to. For all these reasons and more, we should expect a much more relaxed Stars team tonight. They will feel the energy in the building and hopefully build off it. Everything will be familiar to this team again, hopefully winning follows suit.
WIN THE MATCHUP, WIN THE GAME
For the first two games of the series the equation of victory for the Ducks was simple. Their best players, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Frederik Anderson, outplayed the Stars best players, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Kari Lehtonen. If Dallas expects to win the game tonight, and potentially the series, it will start with winning head-to-head matchups. The top players for the Stars and Ducks have been on the ice for the majority of time together, and the Ducks have a clear upper hand. Ryan Getzlaf looks to be an early Conn Smythe Trophy candidate with 4 points in two games, Corey Perry scored a massive goal late in the second period on Friday night, and goaltender Frederik Anderson has been nothing less than stellar. On the Stars side, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have combined for only 3 points while goaltender Kari Lehtonen has allowed 7 goals in two games. Not only does the Ducks duo have more points, goals, and assists than the Stars duo, it is the timing of these points that is critical. Getzlaf tied the game late in first period with a nifty goal on Friday night, and Perry put them ahead late in the second period with a laser off the right wing. Frederik Anderson has looked penetrable at times, but when he has needed to be a rock, he certainly has been. A specific highlight comes to mind when thinking of Anderson’s timely saves. It was his game saving glove save on Stars defenceman Trevor Daley in game two that made you understand the importance of a timely save. Meanwhile, at the Stars end of the ice, Lehtonen was unable to make a timely save on Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano that resulted in the game winning goal. It will be in the lessons learned and leadership shown by one of these threesomes that will make the difference tonight.
Other Headlines To Look Out For:
-Stars defenceman Brenden Dillon will miss his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury.
-Ducks forward Matt Beleskey travelled with the team to Dallas but did not practice yesterday. He is still listed as day-to-day.
-Stars defenceman Kevin Connauton is expected to stay in the lineup as Aaron Rome will be the healthy scratch on the back end.
-Game times is 8:30pm CST, get to your closest TV or headset. Tonight is going to be a dandy! GO STARS!!
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