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Kings aim for fifth straight vs. equally-rested Stars

by Dan Rosen
STARS (8-5-0) at KINGS (10-3-0)


Last 10 --
Dallas 5-5-0; Los Angeles 8-2-0

Season series -- The Kings already got the best of the Stars once this season in a 5-2 win in Dallas on Oct. 28. They won't play again until Jan. 17.

Big Story --
Neither team has played since Saturday, but the Kings are coming off a 4-1 win over Nashville while the Stars got drubbed, 5-0, in Denver. Los Angeles' win over Dallas last month started its current four-game winning streak. Dallas' loss in Denver snapped a three-game winning streak. Kings forward Ryan Smyth will be honored in a pre-game ceremony for playing in his 1,000th career game Saturday against Nashville.

Team Scope:

Stars -- They've had several days now to digest what is easily their worst loss of the young season. The Stars were blasted by the Avalanche, 5-0, on Saturday night. They couldn't match the Avs' intensity from the start and never really could recover. The Stars admittedly got outworked and maybe they also fell victim to backing off under the excuse that it was their third game in four nights. Normally teams love to get right back at it after a stinker like that, but the Stars had to wait until Thursday to try to get it out of their system. They're fresh and hungry, so it'll be interesting to see how they react.

"It's a work in progress," coach Marc Crawford told the Dallas Morning News. "We have to learn the lessons that we can from (Saturday's) game and keep advancing them forward. We're going to be in games where it's three in four nights again. We didn't pass (Saturday) and there's lots of reasons we didn't, but one encouraging sign is how disappointed the guys are because they want to be good in these areas."

Kings --
The Kings also had four days between games, but they've won four in a row and are feeling quite good about themselves right now. However, injuries to Willie Mitchell (broken wrist) and Alexei Ponikarovsky (broken finger) are concerning and will test the Kings' depth.

According to Rich Hammond of the L.A. Kings Insider blog, coach Terry Murray will use Brad Richardson in Ponikarovsky's spot on the third line with Michal Handzus and Wayne Simmonds. Drew Doughty, who normally plays with Mitchell, will now play alongside Rob Scuderi and Jake Muzzin was re-called from Manchester to take Mitchell's spot on the roster. Muzzin is expected to play Thursday.

"We'll make adjustments," Murray said Tuesday. "It's a competitive game, and when you play hard, stuff happens in a game, injuries happen."

Who's Hot --
Stars wing Loui Eriksson had a five-game point scoring streak snapped Saturday. He had 4 points in a 6-3 win over Phoenix on Friday. … Kings forward Justin Williams has points in seven straight games (4-5-9) and 11 of 13 overall this season. He leads the team with 14 points on 8 goals and 6 assists.

Injury Report --
Mitchell and Ponikarovsky are out for the Kings. … The Stars are healthy.

Stat Pack --
Smyth has 336 goals and 386 assists for 722 points in 1,000 NHL games. He has 26 goals and 36 assists for 62 points in 80 games as a King.

Puck Drop -- Crawford had reporters belly laughing Tuesday when he offered up this quote about Thursday's game:

"Very rarely do you see both teams having four days off, so you should see two well-rested teams. We'll see which coaches have screwed up their teams the most.''

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