By MATT BECKER
STATS Senior Writer
As one of the preseason favorites to contend for the Stanley Cup, the Dallas Stars have been one of the league's biggest disappointments. To make matters worse, they will be without one of their top players for the rest of the season.
The Stars will play their first game without captain Brenden Morrow on Saturday when they host the Anaheim Ducks, who are also trying to get out of their funk.
Morrow tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee late in the third period of Thursday's 6-3 loss to Chicago, and will miss the rest of the season. The 29-year-old Morrow scored his fifth goal earlier in Thursday's game, and led Dallas (6-9-3) with a career-high 32 goals last season.
"We are obviously very disappointed to hear the news about Brenden's knee," Stars co-general manager Les Jackson said. "As our captain, he will obviously be missed, but we have every assurance that he can and will come back from this injury at 100 percent. There is a lot of hockey left to be played this season, and we are confident our team will rally together and keep pushing."
The season is only seven weeks old, but the Stars need to turn things around quickly if they want to make their sixth straight trip to the playoffs.
Last season, Dallas defeated Anaheim in a first-round playoff series before losing to eventual Stanley Cup champion Detroit in the Western Conference finals. This season, the Stars are already 18 points back of Pacific Division-leading San Jose, and are tied with Florida for the fewest points in the league (15).
"It's real frustrating," Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "We had high expectations, but you look at the standings and we're at the bottom. With the talent we have, that's unacceptable."
The Stars are 2-5-1 since Oct. 31, but one of the wins in that span came at Anaheim (10-8-3) on Nov. 7, as Mark Parrish recorded a hat trick in Dallas' 5-2 victory. The Stars have won seven of the last 10 over the Ducks.
Defense has been a big problem for Dallas this season, as it has allowed a league-high 68 goals.
Goaltender Marty Turco had another rough outing on Thursday, as he lost for the fourth time in five starts.
Turco has really struggled at home this season, going 1-3-2 with a 4.64 goals-against average and four straight losses.
He was in goal for the win over the Ducks two weeks ago, and finished with 28 saves. Turco is 6-2-1 with a 1.76 GAA and one shutout in his last nine starts versus Anaheim.
The Ducks are also trying to get their season back on track, as they are just 1-3-2 since winning eight of nine.
Anaheim got a point in St. Louis on Friday, as Scott Niedermayer tied the score at 2 with only 0.9 seconds remaining before the Ducks lost in overtime.
"We feel we're a better team than we've shown in a number of games this year," Niedermayer said. "It's frustrating when you don't play to your potential."
Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 25 saves on Friday, and is 0-3-2 with a 3.94 GAA in his last five. His losing streak started against the Stars, as he was pulled in the second period after stopping just 9-of-13 shots.
Giguere, who has not lost six straight decisions since Nov. 9-Dec. 6, 2001, is 4-8-0 with a 3.01 GAA in his last 12 starts against Dallas.
Backup goalie Jonas Hiller may get the start Saturday, although he was pulled in the second period of Wednesday's 6-4 loss to Washington after giving up three goals on six shots.