Stars hope to work past goaltending issues vs. Ducks

( - Dallas coach Lindy Ruff has pinpointed one area in which the Stars need to improve if they hope to make a run at a playoff spot.

Ruff will try to get his goaltending situation on track Sunday evening as the Stars take on the Anaheim Ducks aiming to avoid a sixth loss in a row.

Dallas fell to 0-3-2 over its five-game skid with Friday's 5-4 shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche. The Stars fell in defeat despite holding third- period leads of 3-1 and 4-3, and are nine points back of a wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Kari Lehtonen, in net for the first time since giving up seven goals in a loss to Detroit on Feb. 21, made 19 saves and allowed the only goal of the shootout.

Cody Eakin scored twice and had an assist, while Antoine Roussel and Jason Spezza also tallied in the loss.

"It's a tough one," said Eakin. "We didn't finish the way we wanted to."

Ruff knows at least one reason why the Stars didn't finish off the victory.

"There's one thing I see, and I know this is hard, but the goaltending performance doesn't match the effort of the team right now," Ruff said. "You need goaltending. It's as simple as that. I know that's hard and that might be harsh by me.

"There's nights that he has to steal games, there's nights where he has to outperform the other guy. Our goaltending has been tough on our team, and I think that's where the frustration is."

Lehtonen has now allowed 14 goals over a personal three-game slide, while Jhonas Enroth is winless in three starts since being acquired from the Buffalo Sabres to push Lehtonen for playing time.

It is unknown which of the two will start tonight. Lehtonen is 9-7-4 with a 2.39 goals against average, .918 save percentage and two shutouts in 20 games versus the Ducks, while Enroth is 0-1-0 against them with a 4.50 GAA and .854 save percentage in one start and one relief appearance.

The Ducks are much more set in net and could have No. 1 goaltender Frederik Andersen in the starting lineup tonight. He dressed as the backup in Friday's 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings, returning to the lineup for the first time since suffering a neck injury on Feb. 8.

Andersen is 2-0-0 in his career versus the Stars with a 0.59 GAA and .978 save percentage in two games (1 start) spanning 102 minutes.

John Gibson continued to fill in for Andersen on Friday and made 20 saves to keep the Ducks in the game versus the Kings. He was rewarded with a victory as Anaheim scored all four of its goals in the third period.

"For 60 minutes we played this game the right way," said Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau. "The first 40 minutes we didn't get anything out of it, but our work paid off in the third."

Ryan Kesler, who also had an assist, got the Ducks on the board with a goal 4:37 into the third period and Emerson Etem tied the contest just 90 seconds later. Corey Perry then netted the winner with 8:39 to go and finished things off with an empty-net goal.

Anaheim owns a comfortable 12-point edge over second-place Vancouver in the Pacific Division and trails the NHL-leading Nashville Predators by four points.

The Ducks have won five of their past eight versus the Stars, taking the first of three meetings this season 2-1 in overtime at Dallas on Oct. 31. Nate Thompson scored with 2:30 left on the clock, Perry had a goal and Andersen made 21 saves.

It was Anaheim's third victory in its past four trips to Dallas.

The Stars got a goal from Roussel and 22 saves by Lehtonen in defeat.

The Ducks acquired forward Tomas Fleischmann from the Florida Panthers on Saturday for veteran winger Dany Heatley and a 2015 third-round pick, though it is unknown if he will debut tonight.

In 52 games this season with the Panthers, Fleischmann had seven goals and 14 assists, though his plus-12 rating was the best on the team.