DALLAS -- When the Dallas Stars (7-2-0, 14 points) and Los Angeles Kings (5-2-1, 11 points) met on Saturday night at the Staples Center, it was the Kings who came away with a 1-0 victory thanks to a goal by Jack Johnson with just under five minutes remaining.
Even though the Stars came up on the short end of the stick that night in Los Angeles, first-year coach Glen Gulutzan and his players agree that was one of their best games on the young season.
In fact, that defeat was the lone blemish on a four-game road trip that saw the Stars finish at 3-1 with wins over the Blue Jackets, Ducks and Coyotes.
Considering how close the last meeting was with the Kings, there isn’t much Gulutzan would change heading into tonight's rematch at the American Airlines Center.
"No, not really," Gulutzan said. "They got a few faceoff plays. They ran on us and we have to be a little bit more aware of those and how we're going to defend those. They're so stingy. They've got good goaltending. They're a well-balanced group. They're structured. I think we just want to get into that same type of game that we were in Saturday night and hope for a different result."
In the last meeting between these two clubs, Dallas actually outshot the Kings, something they've done in only three of their first nine games this year and both teams were just 0-for-1 on the power play.
But it was Johnson's goal at 15:02 of the final frame that was the deciding blow in a close win for the home team. And while the Stars players are pleased with their effort just five days ago on the road, they also want another shot at Los Angeles, this time on their home ice.
"Yeah, I think it's a big test for us," Dallas defenseman Sheldon Souray said. "The last game we played on Saturday against these guys, we played well, maybe our best game of the year and we didn't get the win. To come right back and get a chance is a good test for our hockey club, a good test for our character. LA's the best team we've seen so far and we have to be at our best to have a chance against them."
Stars center Mike Ribeiro, who is currently second on the team with 7 points, agrees their last game against the Kings was one of their better efforts of the year. It's a performance he'd like to see replicated tonight in the Lone Star State.
"Yeah, we played good out there, a pretty intense game, probably our best game of the year," Ribeiro said. "We went at them but couldn't score. I think it was a really intense, physical and really good game to be part of. We'll come back and battle the same way."
Heading into tonight's contest, Dallas is a perfect 4-0-0 to start the season at home and the Stars are one of three NHL clubs that have yet to lose in their own building. The last time Dallas started the year 4-0-0 at home was in 1998-99, when it won the Stanley Cup.