Dallas Stars set to host first playoff game since 2008

Celena Rae sings the national anthem before a game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Dallas...

Celena Rae sings the national anthem before a game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center on April 9, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images/AFP)

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:10 PM ET

DALLAS — For fans of the Dallas Stars, the wait is finally over.

Monday marks the first playoff game at American Airlines Center since May 19, 2008, a span of 2,163 days and five seasons without spring hockey in the Big D.

Heading into Monday's Game 3 (9:30 p.m. ET), the Stars are trailing 2-0 in their first-round series with the Anaheim Ducks.

“I think this building will be electric,” said Stars head coach Lindy Ruff. “Anytime I've been in a home playoff game, coaching that first game, the energy in the building before you start the game is absolutely tremendous, and I expect that tonight.”

“ It's going to be exciting. I'm pretty sure the fans are excited. I know this dressing room is real excited,” added defenceman Trevor Daley, the lone holdover from the Stars' last playoff trip. “The crowd is going to be lively. We see the towels going out there (on the seats) right now, so it's going to be fun.”

After back-to-back losses at Honda Center, the Stars probably need a pair of victories on home ice to make things interesting in this first-round series.

It's a positive sign that they have been on a roll at American Airlines Center, posting a 9-2-1 mark after the Olympic break in the building they share with the NBA's Dallas Mavericks.


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Ruff's squad booked their playoff ticket with a shutout victory over the St. Louis Blues in their final regular-season contest at home, and the crowd reaction made it plainly obvious what it means to hockey fans in the Lone Star State to have their team back in the spring dance.

“It was one of the best atmospheres I've been around,” recalled Stars rookie Alex Chiasson. “I remember, I was on the ice for one of the last shifts and my legs were kind of trembling there, with everyone standing up and cheering. It should be a good experience tonight.”

Home-ice advantage also means last change for the Stars, and you can expect Ruff will try to keep star forwards Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin away from Anaheim's dynamic duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

With two tallies and two assists so far in this series, Getzlaf is a big reason the Ducks posted a pair of one-goal triumphs on home ice.

“It's been hard, because we've put a lot of work into these two games,” Ruff said. “These two games could have gone any way. It could be 1-1, the series. It could be 0-2. It's 2-0, for Anaheim. We need to turn the table by playing that much better, eliminating a few mistakes and taking advantage of some of those key opportunities.”

The Stars will be without blueliner Brenden Dillon, who is once again skating but has yet to see any playoff action due to a lower-body injury.

Left-winger Matt Beleskey (lower-body) will miss a second consecutive contest for the Ducks.

The goaltending battle remains the same. Frederik Andersen starts for the Ducks, while Kari Lehtonen gets the nod for the Stars.

 

 

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson

 


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