Pacific heights: Stars top Ducks to clinch division title

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Mike Modano was in the dressing room
getting treatment for an injured left knee while the rest of the
Dallas Stars were wrapping up their seventh division title in nine

Dallas clinched the Pacific Division crown Thursday night with a
5-3 victory over the second-place Anaheim Mighty Ducks. But the
accomplishment was tempered somewhat by the injury to the Stars'
captain and leading scorer.

"It wasn't a good feeling for anybody," Stu Barnes said. "As
a friend and teammate, you want him to be OK and healthy and in the
lineup. Who knows what's going to happen? But obviously he's a huge
part of our team, he's our leader, and we want him in there."

Dallas was leading 4-2 when Modano got tangled up with Anaheim
forward Jonathan Hedstrom near the Stars' bench while trying to
play the puck and crumpled to the ice with 7:12 left in the second
period, clutching his knee and writhing in pain. The six-time
All-Star tops the franchise list in every major offensive category.

"When any player goes down you get a little scare, but it's not
bad at all," coach Dave Tippett said. "He just tweaked an old
injury. When I talked to him between periods, he seemed to respond
well, so I don't think it's serious at all. I just talked to him
and he was planning on skating tomorrow, so there's nothing to be
concerned about. I don't think there's much to evaluate."

Modano has missed only 29 games over the last seven seasons, and
only one this season.

"We're obviously glad that it's nothing too serious with Mike,
but we'll just see how he is Saturday. That's a decision we'll make
at game time," Tippett said. "We do have some healthy bodies
around, so we're not going to take a chance with anybody and put
anybody in a vulnerable situation. But that being said, we want to
continue to play well as a team -- and he's a big part of our

Antti Miettinen and Jussi Jokinen scored power-play goals less
than 1 minutes apart in the second period and Niko Kapanen had two
goals, one into an empty net. Niclas Hagman had a short-handed goal
for the Stars.

The victory was the Stars' 50th, one shy of the franchise record
set in 1998-99 when they won their only Stanley Cup.

"It's something our players can be proud of," Tippett said of
the division crown. "What it does is guarantee you're in the
playoffs and gives you home ice for the first round. Anytime you
win a division title, those are the perks that go with it, and it's
a feather in your cap.

"There's a lot of tradition in this organization, and
expectations are very high," Tippett added. "The players who come
in here deal with those expectations in a positive way, and it
pushes people forward. Success is something that is earned, and our
players have that kind of mentality."

Anaheim's Andy McDonald scored his 30th goal of the season on a
power play. Rob Niedermayer and Joffrey Lupul also scored for the

Jokinen triggered a three-goal second period during a two-man
advantage, after Niedermayer and brother Scott received hooking
penalties 32 seconds apart.

Sergei Zubov's 35-foot slap shot was wide of the net, but
Jokinen played the carom off the end boards and tucked his 17th
goal inside the right post before goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere
could scramble over.

"You can't give a good team like that 5-on-3s," McDonald said.
"We didn't get the win, but we played hard and had enough chances
to win. You look around the room after the game and everyone's
disappointed with the loss, but nobody felt like we were outplayed,
or that they took it to us."

Miettinen gave Dallas a 3-2 edge at 4:43 of the period with a
one-timer from just inside the blue line. Kapanen gave the Stars a
two-goal lead before Anaheim closed to 4-3 on Lupul's 25-foot wrist
shot from the right circle two minutes before intermission.

Game notes
Modano got an assist on Jokinen's goal and has 69 points
and 48 assists in 56 career games against Anaheim -- the most points
by any opposing player. ... The Ducks lost three times to Dallas
during their franchise record-tying eight-game losing streak in
November. Since that skid, they are 33-14-8. ... Dallas has allowed
more than three goals only once in its last 17 games. ... The Ducks
play their next five games on the road before returning to the Pond
for the regular-season finale on Apr. 17 against Calgary. ...
Dallas is 7-2-2 while RW Bill Guerin has been sidelined by a
fractured orbital bone in his right eye. He is expected back in the
lineup this weekend.