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Kings happy to be in, but know work remains

by Curtis Zupke

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- For a team that barely squeaked into the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, the Los Angeles Kings weren't really breathing a big sigh of relief Sunday.

Los Angeles clinched a berth when the Detroit Red Wings lost Saturday night, but they have bigger fish to fry as it sits fourth in the Western Conference standings going into a game against the Dallas Stars on Sunday (9 p.m. ET, NHLN-US).

"It's always nice when that 'X' appears in front of your team's name," Anze Kopitar said. "But we have some other business to take care of. We're shooting for home ice. That's been the goal for the last two weeks, and we're going to stick to it."

The defending Cup champions know last season was a historical anomaly. They were the first eighth seed to win the Cup, having started all four postseason series in another city.

"It's only happened once," Matt Greene said. "It's a pretty tough road to do it like we did last year. You've got to benefit yourself by playing at home. That's just the way it is. That's our goal … anytime you can stay here and avoid traveling it's going to be easier on your body."

The last time the Kings began the postseason at home was 1992. After that they started a stretch of 15 straight playoff series on the road.

Coach Darryl Sutter wasn't on the same page as his players, at least publicly.

Asked if their attention turns toward getting home-ice advantage, Sutter said, "It turns toward getting everybody to play well. Home-ice advantage is irrelevant. It's based on tonight and how you play tonight. Quite honest, we're playing a team we haven't played very well against."

Here is the lineup the Kings likely will use Sunday against the Stars:

Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams

Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Jeff Carter

Dwight King - Jarret Stoll - Trevor Lewis

Kyle Clifford - Brad Richardson - Jordan Nolan

Robyn Regehr - Drew Doughty

Rob Scuderi - Slava Voynov

Jake Muzzin - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick

Jonathan Bernier

Injured: Willie Mitchell (knee)

Scratched: Colin Fraser, Alec Martinez, Keaton Ellerby

Notes: Quick was first off the ice and is expected to start Sunday. His save percentage has risen above .900 (.901) after he had a.942 save percentage in the past four games. … Sutter pointed to his top-six forward unit for a 1-3-0 record against Dallas, including 0-2-0 at home. "Our top two lines have to get into playoff mode, right?" Sutter said. "If they get in playoff mode, then it gives us a better opportunity to win [Sunday] and to play better once the playoffs start." … Kopitar is on a 12-game goal-scoring drought, although he has nine assists in that span. How important is it to put a puck in the net before the playoffs start? "It would be really nice," Kopitar said. "Every time you score a goal it's nice. But at this time of the year, you don't think about that too much because the team goal is at the top of the list. As long as we're winning games and I'm contributing, to a certain degree in different ways, whichever that is, I'll be happy."

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