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Dallas Needs a Lift From Its Stars

May 02, 2003|LONNIE WHITE

Dallas Coach Dave Tippett is regarded as one of the NHL's best power-play technicians, and the Stars have big-name players known for their special teams skills.

But the Mighty Ducks have put the lock on Dallas' power play in their best-of-seven second-round series.

In taking a 3-1 lead, the Ducks have held the Stars to two goals in 14 power-play opportunities for 14.3%, below Dallas' 19% during the regular season.

In Wednesday's 1-0 loss, Dallas went scoreless five times with the man advantage. Although the Stars were able to get good puck movement on the perimeter, their big guns shot blanks.

Mike Modano had only two shots on goal and his late attempt on a third-period power play might have gone through goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere's kick save had the shot had more steam. Jason Arnott, called for two third-period penalties, was basically a non-factor all game as he struggled to find space away from the Ducks' defensemen.

But Modano and Arnott are only two of the Stars falling short against the Ducks, who will try to close out the series Saturday.

A breakdown of Game 5:

DALLAS' MOVE -- The Stars should receive a big boost from their home fans, who will have American Airlines Center rocking. That might help Dallas open things up, after playing tight for most of Game 4.

The Stars did a solid job in the corners Wednesday, but they failed to open things up when they needed to attack the Ducks' zone. Dallas looked a lot like a Ken Hitchcock team in Game 4, and that's playing right into the Ducks' style. Look for the Stars to gamble a little more.

Tippett went with forward Ulf Dahlen over Pierre Turgeon in Game 4 and the Stars' attack still lacked zip. Tippett should again shake up his lines and maybe team Arnott with Modano. Defensively, the Stars have been playing well, but they have to stay disciplined and avoid the penalty box.

DUCKS' MOVE -- Coach Mike Babcock has stressed versatility all season and the Ducks have responded with plenty of it during the playoffs. Six players have accounted for the nine Duck goals against Dallas. That's the type of balance Babcock stressed in October, and it's paying off now.

Defenseman Ruslan Salei has been a rock for the Ducks. He has been physical all over the ice and has made great decisions with the puck against the Stars' forecheckers. Salei and Keith Carney are averaging more than 30 minutes of ice time against Dallas.

Center Adam Oates continued his strong postseason play, winning 12 of 17 faceoffs in Game 4. The Ducks will need his veteran craftiness again because puck possession may prove to be the difference Saturday. The Ducks have held a slight edge in faceoffs in the series.

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