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At the Rink: Kings at Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- The Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars find themselves in somewhat unfamiliar situations as they prepare to square off Tuesday at American Airlines Center.

The Kings (0-3-1) and Stars (0-2-2) are each riding four-game winless streaks, a trend each coach would like to quickly reverse.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter, whose team heads into the final game of a five-game road trip, isn't terribly unhappy with how the Kings have played thus far on the trip.

"We've played really well on the road. Other than for a few minutes in Detroit, we played really well," Sutter said. "We probably played better in a couple of these games than we did in our miraculous homestand that everybody talked about."

Dallas hasn't won since Oct. 24 at the New Jersey Devils, a 3-2 shootout victory. But the Stars, who are 1-0-4 at American Airlines Center, haven't won on home ice since a 6-3 victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 21. And even with their current struggles, Stars coach Lindy Ruff knows he has a tough draw in the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

"Well, we had tough matchups last year," Ruff said. "We played well against them. Obviously a big, heavy team that we're going to have to compete hard around the puck."

Sutter is keeping his line combinations and defensive pairings identical from a 3-2 loss Sunday at the Carolina Hurricanes.

Goalie Jonathan Quick will make his 11th start of the season for the Kings.

Ruff has made several changes to his lines. A game-time decision, Valeri Nichushkin skated on the right side of the Stars top line with left wing Jamie Benn and center Tyler Seguin. Nichushkin, who missed the past nine games with a hip/groin injury, last played on Oct. 11 at the Nashville Predators and played two games for Texas of the American Hockey League during a recent conditioning assignment.

"We're going to try to play him a regular shift," Ruff said of Nichushkin. "Had a couple games where it looked like his conditioning was good inside those games and if we use him, it'll be playing a regular shift."

Nichushkin's possible return means that Jason Spezza, who had been centering the top line, drops down to the second line alongside left wing Erik Cole and right wing Ales Hemsky.

Veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar, who has not played in the regular season after fracturing a bone in his ankle during the preseason, is also a game-time decision and could skate on the Stars third defensive pairing with Jamie Oleksiak.

Tuesday will mark the 700th game for longtime Dallas defenseman Trevor Daley, currently the Stars longest-tenured player.

"When you have a chance reminisce it is pretty cool. Obviously, I feel pretty honored and fortunate to be with this organization for this long," Daley said. "To play that many games is pretty cool, too. I feel very fortunate and try not to take it for granted."

Goalie Kari Lehtonen will start his fourth consecutive game for the Stars.

Here are the projected lineups:


Marian GaborikAnze KopitarJustin Williams

Tanner PearsonJeff CarterTyler Toffoli

Dwight KingJarret StollDustin Brown

Kyle CliffordMike RichardsTrevor Lewis

Jake MuzzinDrew Doughty

Alec MartinezRobyn Regehr

Brayden McNabbMatt Greene

Jonathan Quick

Martin Jones

Scratched: Andy Andreoff

Injured: Andrew Bodnarchuk (knee), Jordan Nolan (suspension), Slava Voynov (suspension)


Jamie BennTyler SeguinValeri Nichushkin

Erik ColeJason SpezzaAles Hemsky

Antoine RousselCody EakinRyan Garbutt

Shawn HorcoffVernon Fiddler - Colton Sceviour

Alex GoligoskiTrevor Daley

Jordie BennBrenden Dillon

Jamie Oleksiak - Sergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen

Anders Lindback

Scratched: Kevin Connauton, Patrick Eaves

Injured: Patrik Nemeth (right arm laceration)

Status report: Seguin missed practice Monday after having wisdom teeth pulled Sunday but he was back on the ice for morning skate Tuesday with no issue. … With Spezza dropping to the second line, Fiddler centered the fourth line and Eaves, who had been playing on the left side of the second line, will be scratched.

Who's hot: Quick is tied for 10th in the NHL in wins (five), third in save percentage (.939) and goals-against-average (2.03). … Jamie Benn has 22 points (14 goals) in 26 games against the Kings, the most Benn has against any other team in his career.

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