The Dallas Stars certainly can use a win in their regular-season finale as a means to build some momentum heading into the playoffs.
The Anaheim Ducks aim to close out another disappointing campaign by winning back-to-back games for the first time in more than two months when they visit Dallas on Friday night.
Dallas (45-30-6, 96 points) clinched the final available Western Conference playoff spot by earning a point with Wednesday's 4-3 overtime home loss to Arizona. While the Stars are back in the postseason after missing out last year and have earned at least a point in three straight contests, they blew a 3-0 third-period lead to the Coyotes and fell to 2-3-1 in the last six games.
"We'll get ready for the playoffs," Dallas coach Rick Bowness said. "Most important thing is we're in the playoffs and we move on."
The Stars still could use something positive heading into the postseason after Wednesday's bittersweet experience.
"You're obviously upset losing," Stars backup goaltender Scott Wedgewood said. "But it takes a lot of pressure off Friday for just (staying) alive, which we are now. Just win a game on Friday and see what happens."
Though Dallas won't have home ice in the first round of the playoffs, it's amid a 4-0-2 stretch in its own building, with each of those games decided by a goal.
The Stars have also won four straight overall against the Ducks, dating to October 2019. Three of those games were also decided by a one-goal margin, including matching 3-2 Dallas wins this season, both at Anaheim.
The Ducks (31-36-14, 76 points) will miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season, a disappointing development after starting 17-9-5. Anaheim won for just the fourth time in the last 23 games Tuesday after it earned a 5-2 victory at San Jose.
The Ducks last won consecutive games Feb. 19 and 22.
"Obviously, the (standings) aren't what we want," said Anaheim goaltender Anthony Stolarz, who made 31 saves Tuesday. "But, at the end of the day, you look at the majority of the games, and we're playing hard.
"No matter what, we're competitive guys."
Despite the Ducks' overall status this season, Troy Terry's breakout season includes 36 goals and 30 assists, while Trevor Zegras (23 goals, 37 assists) is considered one of the frontrunners for the Calder Trophy, as the league's top rookie. Terry and Zegras combined for a goal and three assists against the Stars this season.
However, Anaheim goalie John Gibson has a 4.13 goals-against average while mired in a 1-12-3 rut.
While Wedgewood made 33 saves against the Sharks, the Stars could go back to Jake Oettinger for a playoff tune-up. In his second NHL season, Oettinger won 29 games, including three of his last five starts. He stopped 47 of 51 shots in the two wins over the Ducks this season.
Since April 10, Dallas' Joe Pavelski, Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz have combined for 16 goals and 21 assists over a 10-game stretch. Hintz recorded a goal and Robertson an assist against the Ducks this season.
--Field Level Media