Ducks Stars Game 3 Preview:  Pivotal

Jeff Gross

Anaheim let the Stars hang around in both of the opening games, but hung on to win. Now they have a chance to take firm control of the series, or open up wide. Let's hope it's the former.

What we learned from Game 2: Well, technically we learned it from both Games 1 and 2, but the Stars are not going away, and the Ducks seem unable to completely put them away.  Of course that can all change with a win tonight, but with the series shifting to Dallas the match ups can change, allowing the Stars to clean up the small mistakes that have put them in a 2-0 hole thus far.

What needs to change for Game 3: The Stars were really up for Game two at the start, as opposed to Game 1.  There is no reason to believe that going back home, even down two games to none, they'll be any different.  They've shown that they can hang with the Ducks as an eight seed physically as well as tactically and now gain home ice advantage.

Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have seen a lot of the puck, but only have one non power play point between them, as opposed to Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry who have five points combined even strength and shorthanded.  The story line going into the series was that these two duos would cancel each other out and the Ducks depth would be the difference, but that hasn't really been the case.  The Ducks' top players have been their best, in terms of point production, and Dallas' depth has kept them in games.

It will be more difficult to keep a lid on Benn and Seguin in these next two games and according to the possession metrics, the Ducks haven't really been doing a great job of it so far.  With points from seven non top line players through two games it's hard to say that they need to see more from their depth players, but assuming Dallas improves as they did from Game 1 to 2, more will be asked of everybody.

Also, it might go without saying, but if the Ducks can go into the final period with a lead of some kind, completely shutting down any semblance of offense like they did on Friday is a recipe for disaster.  Granted, almost all teams tend to play more defensively on the road and with a lead, but allowing your opponent to attack in waves upon waves shouldn't be a preferred strategy, especially with the offensive ability and forechecking game the Ducks possess.

Roster changes: The Ducks have finally sent John Gibson back down to Norfolk as they are about to start the Calder Cup Playoffs, but interestingly they have also brought up Admirals leading scorer Emerson Etem.  While it's great to see him back up with the Ducks and we all remember how well he played in the playoffs last year, it raises some questions about where he might fit into the lineup.  Also up from Norfolk is Mark Fistric, who was on a conditioning stint in the AHL.

Brenden Dillon did skate on Sunday, but will still not be available for Dallas in Game 3.

Fearless prediction: The Ducks play an ultra conservative game, and are forced into a come from behind win.

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