Must-win for Dallas in Game 6 against Ducks

Trevor Daley #6 of the Dallas Stars and Patrick Maroon #62 of the Anaheim Ducks fight for the puck...

Trevor Daley #6 of the Dallas Stars and Patrick Maroon #62 of the Anaheim Ducks fight for the puck in the first period of Game Five of the First Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on April 25, 2014 in Anaheim, California. The Ducks defeated the Stars 6-2. Jeff Gross/Getty Images/AFP

WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:01 PM ET

DALLAS - Down, not done.

There's a difference.

The Dallas Stars are sizing up a must-win scenario in Sunday's Game 6 (8 p.m. ET) against the Anaheim Ducks at American Airlines Center, but don't get any sense of panic from a group that had to battle just to earn a wildcard playoff berth.

“There's nothing but fight from this group,” said Stars centre Cody Eakin.

The Stars won-back-to-back dates in Dallas earlier in this series, but they're staring at a 3-2 deficit in the best-of-seven after losing all three contests at Honda Center in Anaheim.

It's worth noting the Stars have been oh-so-good at home of late, posting an 11-2-1 mark at American Airlines Center since the Olympic break.

If necessary, Game 7 goes Tuesday in California.

“These guys have battled and work their asses off all year long,” said Stars head coach Lindy Ruff. “I can't ask for much more out of this group. I've pushed hard when the tank has been almost empty. They've answered every call. They've given everything they've had at every turn to try to get in the playoffs, and I'm proud of the fact that we've worked hard to get there.

“We've worked hard to come back from 2-0. We're going to empty the tank to try to get this to 3-3, and that's all I can ask.”

The storyline of Game 5 was Anaheim's power play, with the Ducks scoring four times on the man-advantage en route to a 6-2 triumph.

The Stars, who have cashed in on only two of 24 power play opportunities so far during this playoff push, shuffled their special-teams units in Sunday's morning skate, with Eakin joining Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin on the top trio. Trevor Daley and Alex Goligoski will man the points.

The Stars are expected to welcome defenceman Patrick Nemeth back to the lineup after a one-game absence due to an upper-body injury, while 41-year-old winger Ray Whitney will be a healthy scratch and Erik Cole will return to action.

The Ducks are hoping left-winger Matt Beleskey, who has missed four consecutive contests because of a lower-body injury, will be good to go in Game 6.

Meanwhile, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf will go without extra facial protection for the first time since being struck by a high slapshot in the series-opener. The tough-as-nails centre needed 50-plus stitches to close that cut.

“Obviously, when the time was right for it to come off, I was going to take it off. I wasn't just going to play with it,” Getzlaf said. “I had to get clearance from the doctors, mostly on the healing inside. The outside, it is what it is, but when it cut all the way through, you have to worry about infections and all those kinds of things. They didn't want it to happen again, but everything seems to be healed up good.”

An elimination game is another new experience for the Stars, who ended a five-year wildcard drought this spring and have a dozen players who had never skated in the NHL post-season before.

This is more familiar territory for the Ducks. As they've been reminded countless times over the past couple of days, they had a 3-2 series lead over the Detroit Red Wings in the opening round last spring but couldn't close the deal.

“I think you have to use it as motivation. It’s not something that we try and dwell on too much, but if you have that feeling — what it felt like losing — in the back of your mind, it can help motivate you and try and not make the same mistake again,” Ducks defenceman Cam Fowler said. “We were in this very same position and ended up losing Game 6 in overtime and then Game 7 at home, so we know how fast things can change.”

wes.gilbertson@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson


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