ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — In what could be a preview of a first-round playoff matchup, the Anaheim Ducks seem to finally be figuring out the Dallas Stars.
"We've certainly had our struggles against them this year. The last couple of games, we've reversed the fortunes," Anaheim defenseman Mathieu Schneider said Sunday after he scored twice in regulation in the Ducks' 3-2 shootout victory.
"It's been a great back-and-forth series. They are one of the elite teams in the Western Conference," Schneider said. "If we do end up playing them (in the postseason), it's going to be a battle. If we can get home ice, that's a big a bonus for us."
Although the Stars lost, they wrapped up a playoff berth by getting one point. They are fifth in the Western Conference with 93 points, and the Ducks are fourth with 98.
Dallas had gone 5-1 in the season series before Anaheim won the final two meetings.
The Stars' Matt Niskanen said he and his teammates were pleased to secure a spot in the postseason.
"That's the first priority right there," he said. "It's something we wanted to do as soon as possible. That was our main focus coming into this trip, to make sure we get into the playoffs."
Teemu Selanne and Chris Kunitz had goals against Dallas goalie Marty Turco in the shootout. Brad Richards had the only goal for the Stars in the three-round showdown, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped shots by Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen.
"It obviously was tight. We feel fortunate to get the extra point in a shootout," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said.
Giguere, back after missing three games with back spasms and being the backup to Jonas Hiller in the Ducks' last game, made 23 saves.
Turco had 30 saves, including a couple of fine stops in the overtime when the Ducks outshot the Stars 5-3.
Ryan Getzlaf, the Ducks' leading scorer, returned after being out three games with a sore shoulder, and assisted on both of Schneider's goals.
"It was a big win for us, as well as me getting back in there and feeling comfortable again," Getzlaf said.
The loss continued the Stars' March woes — they've won two of 11 this month.
"The best way to get our confidence back is winning," Turco said. "We've all just been lacking a little bit. We need to keep battling to win games.
"When you get in the playoffs, that's what it is all about. We've got to generate that feeling, and it starts with me."
Dallas' Niklas Hagman scored at 1:53 of the third period to tie it at 2. Hagman was just to the right of the crease when the puck when the puck slid out to him during a battle behind the goal line, and he one-timed it in for his 27th goal.
After Modano evened it at 1 at 6:45 of the second, Schneider put the Ducks in front again at 14:54 of the period with his second goal of the game and 12th of the season.
Getzlaf controlled the puck behind the Dallas goal line, skated forward and slid a perfect pass to Schneider coming down slot.
Modano got his 20th goal on a 20-footer that beat Giguere on the stick side. Brenden Morrow set up the score with his pass from the right boards to Modano, who was skating down the slot and veered to his left to get the shot off.
Schneider opened the scoring with a 55-footer from the right side that sailed past Turco at 9:43 of the first period. The multigoal game was the 15th of his career.
The victory was the Ducks' 11th in their last 12 games in Anaheim and they are 18-3-1 in their last 22 at home. Their 27-9-4 record on their home ice set a franchise record for home victories. They won 26 in 2005-06 and matched that mark last season.
Notes:@ Dallas D Mattias Norstrom, 36, played in his 900th NHL regular-season game. … Anaheim C Doug Weight was a healthy scratch. … The Ducks had won the previous meeting, a 2-1 victory on March 19 in Dallas. … Anaheim D Chris Pronger served the seventh of an eight-game suspension. He's slated to return for the regular-season home finale on April 6.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.