STARS (15-11-1) at KINGS (13-11-4)
TV: TXA 21, FS-W (HD)
Dallas 4-5-1; Los Angeles 4-5-1
This is the fourth of six meetings between these Pacific Division rivals. The Kings have won two of the three previous encounters and also hold an 11-2-2 edge over the last 15 games between the clubs. The Stars earned a 3-2 overtime victory in the most recent contest on Nov. 23 when Steve Ott
connected 2:56 into the extra period. Jamie Benn
and Loui Eriksson
scored third-period goals as the Stars rallied from a 2-0 deficit.
The Stars opened a season-long five-game road trip on Thursday with a loss to the San Jose Sharks. Despite the setback, there was some positive news in that captain Brenden Morrow
(upper body) returned from the injured list after missing six games and defenseman Alex Goligoski
also was back in the lineup after sitting out the previous 11 contests with a broken thumb. Following their visit to Los Angeles, the Stars head to the East Coast for games against the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils before returning home against Anaheim on Dec. 19. The club has dropped five of its last six on the road and sits eighth in the Western Conference standings.
Dallas was forced to battle from behind from the outset against San Jose on Thursday after the Sharks connected twice in a span of 15 seconds just two minutes into the game to open a 2-0 lead. Morrow and Mike Ribeiro
each had a goal and one assist as the Stars did square the contest, 2-2, but the Sharks would score three unanswered goals to seal the deal. Stars goalie Andrew Raycroft
, who started his fifth straight game in place of injured Kari Lehtonen
, allowed five goals on 24 shots. He was pulled for Richard Bachman
to open the third.
The Kings suffered their third straight loss on Thursday following a 4-2 setback to the Minnesota Wild. The biggest issue for the slumping Kings seems to be scoring as the club ranks last in the League with a 2.25 goals per game average. While it didn't help the offense to have center Mike Richards
placed on injured reserve on Dec. 2, the fact of the matter is Los Angeles has scored two or fewer goals in their last seven games (2-4-1). Anze Kopitar
, who leads the team with 27 points, has gone seven games without a goal and is a minus-4 in that span. Kings captain Dustin Brown
has just one goal in his last 11 games.
Ribeiro has 1 goal and 3 assists during a three-game points streak for the Stars, while Stephane Robidas
has an assist in four straight games. … Dustin Penner
has 2 goals and 1 assist during a three-game points streak since the Kings activated him off injured reserve.
The Kings are without the services of Richards (concussion). Defenseman Willie Mitchell
(groin), who leads the team with 53 blocked shots, could return against the Stars. Scott Parse
could be gone for the rest of the season after hip surgery on Dec. 2. … For the Stars, Lehtonen (groin) and forward Adam Burish
(hand) are out.
The Stars are one of only two teams, along with the Boston Bruins, to not allow a shorthanded goal this season. It's interesting to note, however, that Dallas also has a League-low 84 power-play opportunities.
"Are we the most offensive team in the League? Probably not. Are we the most defensive team? I don't know," Kopitar told the media when asked the reasoning behind his team's offensive struggles. "Neutral-zone forecheck, that's what it is. Everybody is pulling back. I guess the Devils played that just before the lockout, and everybody was getting on them about how everybody played the trap, and now it seems like everybody is doing it."