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Stars aim to even series with Ducks
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Dallas Stars hope to pick up another win on home ice and even the Western Conference quarterfinals at two games apiece, as they host the Anaheim Ducks in Wednesday's Game 4 at American Airlines Center.
The Ducks picked up a pair of one-goal wins in Games 1 and 2 on home ice, but Dallas cut its series deficit in half with Monday's 3-0 victory in Big D. It was the club's first playoff win since a victory over Detroit in Dallas' run to the Western Conference finals in 2008.
Kari Lehtonen came up huge for the Stars in Game 3, making 37 saves for his first playoff win and shutout. Lehtonen was 0-2 for the now-relocated Atlanta Thrashers during the 2007 playoffs, but improved his career postseason mark to 1-4 on Monday.
"I think tonight when the puck was coming at me, it always seemed to hit something or bounce past me," said Lehtonen. "In the two other games, I felt like all those kind of plays seemed to go the other way. Some nights it goes that way no matter what you try to do. I've learned that my game doesn't get better if I start trying to over-do things and be more aggressive."
Stars head coach Lindy Ruff praised his 30-year-old goaltender for setting the tone in Game 3.
"I think tonight (Lehtonen) made a statement that he was determined to be better than he was in the previous game," said Ruff. "And I asked all the players to be determined to be better in some small areas and I thought we were tonight."
Jamie Benn, Ryan Garbutt and Valeri Nichushkin all scored for the Stars, who were outscored by a slim 7-5 margin in the first two games of the series.
Although it forced its way back into the series with Monday's win, Dallas cannot afford to take its foot of the gas in Game 4. If the Stars lose tonight that would give Anaheim a chance to end the series Friday evening in Anaheim.
Frederik Andersen made 19 stops in the loss for the Ducks, who were shut out for the first time since a 2-0 home loss against Chicago on Feb. 5. Anaheim also was shut out in Game 3 of the opening round for the second straight spring. The Ducks lost Game 3 in Detroit by a 4-0 score on May 4, 2013 and wound up losing the Western Conference quarterfinal series in seven games.
In addition to dropping Game 3 in Dallas, the Stars also lost defenseman Stephane Robidas for the remainder of the postseason with a broken leg.
Robidas was injured early in the second period during a collision with Garbutt and was taken to a local hospital. The team later said that he suffered a fractured right leg.
He was making his return to Dallas, which traded him to Anaheim in March. At the time of the trade, he was recovering from a fracture in the same leg -- a bit lower than this one -- that kept him off the ice for close to four months.
Robidas was ruled out for the rest of the playoffs on Tuesday.
"It's a huge loss because he was playing great," said Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau. "And of course, I think all the guys on the bench felt extremely bad for him. Here's your teammate who's just fought his way back from a broken leg."
Either Mark Fistric or Luca Sbisa expects to enter the lineup in Robidas' absence on Wednesday.
Sbisa had one goal and five assists over 30 regular-season games in 2013-14. The 24-year-old has one assist over 12 career playoff games. Fistric, a former Stars defenseman, had one goal and five assists in 34 tilts for Anaheim this season. He has never registered a point in nine career playoff games -- all of which came with Dallas.
Dallas was 23-11-7 as the home team in 2013-14 and beat the Ducks, 6-3, on Nov. 26 in the lone regular-season meeting between the clubs in Big D. Anaheim was 25-12-4 as the visiting club this season.
This series marks the third all-time playoff meeting between these clubs and first since the Stars bested the Ducks in six games during the 2008 Western Conference quarterfinals.
04/23 10:46:35 ET