GAME: Dallas Stars (11-11-3-0) at Los Angeles Kings (12-10-1-1).
TIME: Thursday, 10:30 p.m. EST.
Less than two months into the season, the Dallas Stars believe they are
entering a critical portion of their schedule.
Dallas hopes to start a four-game road trip with a win when it faces the Los
Angeles Kings for the second time in five days.
The Stars will face all four Pacific Division opponents on this trip before
returning home to play Chicago on Dec. 12. Dallas, 1-5-1 in its last seven on
the road, plays only six games against its own division after this trip before
the All-Star break in February.
"It's a critical week for us," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "We've come
off a pretty good stretch where we've played well as a team. Our top players
played well, our goaltending was solid, and that has to continue. It's going to
be a very intense week."
A string of five consecutive games against Pacific Division foes actually
started Sunday with a 2-1 home loss to the Kings. Sergei Zubov scored a
power-play goal in the second period for Dallas, which had a season-high
three-game win streak snapped.
Stars captain Mike Modano took a stick in the face from Kings left wing
Alexander Frolov early in the second period and missed the rest of the game.
Modano, who sustained a nose laceration and an eye contusion, was held out as a
precaution but is expected to play in the rematch.
While Modano should be available, center Jason Arnott did not practice
Tuesday due to a groin injury and may not play Thursday.
Although he was held without a point on Sunday, Stars right wing Bill Guerin
has six goals and 11 points in his last 10 games. He is third in the NHL with
Los Angeles failed to win its third straight game Wednesday, losing 4-1 at
Roman Cechmanek was pulled midway through the second period after allowing
three goals on nine shots. In his two previous starts, Cechmanek had
surrendered one goal in each -- both wins.
"We tried to change the momentum in the game and that save percentage
doesn't get it done for you," Kings coach Andy Murray said.
Murray said he plans to start Cechmanek on Thursday.
"It was a frustrating game," Cechmanek said. "But it is over now. Now I
am focusing on the next game."
Wednesday marked the Kings debut of forward Martin Straka, acquired Sunday
from Pittsburgh for two minor leaguers. Straka was held without a goal for the
14th straight game while Luc Robitaille's goalless drought reached eight games.