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Kings-Stars Preview @NHL
Kings-Stars Preview

GAME: Los Angeles Kings (8-4-0) at Dallas Stars (6-4-1).

TIME: Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

Marty Turco hasn't been playing up to his ability this season, especially against the Los Angeles Kings.

In fact, Dallas' usually steady goaltender may not even start when the Stars host the first-place Kings in a Pacific Division matchup.

Turco entered this season with a goals-against average of 1.91 over four NHL seasons, but has struggled to a 4-4-1 mark and a GAA of 3.64 in 2005-06.

His career goals-against would be even lower if not for Los Angeles, and the Kings continued to give him problems in his last start against them. Turco was lifted Oct. 20 after surrendering three goals on seven shots in a 7-2 loss to Los Angeles, a defeat that dropped his record against the Kings to 5-6-2. It is his only losing record against teams he has faced at least 10 times.

The Stars allowed their highest goal total in that game since an 8-0 loss to the Kings on Jan. 30, 2001.

Turco faced Los Angeles for the first time this season Oct. 5 and allowed the Kings to take a 4-0 lead, but the Stars bailed him out by rallying for a 5-4 win.

With Turco taking the loss in his last two starts, allowing a combined 10 goals to San Jose and Edmonton, Dallas coach Dave Tippett gave backup Johan Hedberg the start at Phoenix on Saturday. Hedberg helped get the Stars back on track, making 20 saves in a 5-3 victory.

Dallas came in having lost three of four and fell behind 3-1 in the second period before Mike Modano and Sergei Zubov provided timely goals to spark a rally.

Modano scored in the second and Zubov, Niko Kapanen, and Jere Lehtinen had goals in the third to help the Stars close October at 6-4-1.

Hedberg, who gave up four goals on 21 shots in relief of Turco on Oct. 20, improved to 2-0 on the season.

"It was a weird game," Hedberg said. "There were a lot of shots where I didn't have a clue where they were. But we stayed in the game and fought, and it paid off for us."

The Kings have gone 2-2 since beating Dallas, including a 5-2 home win over St. Louis on Saturday that snapped a six-game skid against the Blues.

Pavol Demitra pushed his team-leading goal total to seven with two against his former team, and Alexander Frolov also had two goals and added an assist in Los Angeles' first win over the Blues since Dec. 17, 2002.

"I'm just glad this game is over and we won," said Demitra, who left St. Louis as a free agent. "It was a weird feeling, because I played there for eight years and I knew most of the guys and the coaches and everyone. It's probably going to be worse when we go to St. Louis because I've got so many friends there."

Rookie Jason LaBarbera made 29 saves to improve to 6-0 as a starter this season. LaBarbera allowed two goals on 14 shots against San Jose on Friday after replacing Mathieu Garon, resulting in his only loss.

STANDINGS: Kings - 16 points, 1st place, Pacific Division. Stars - 13 points, 3rd place (tied), 3 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Demitra, 7 goals; Lubomir Visnovsky, 12 assists and 15 points; George Parros, 33 PIM. Stars - Jere Lehtinen, 7 goals; Jason Arnott and Modano, 8 assists; Modano, 12 points; John Erskine, 41 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Kings - Power play: 16.8 percent (13 for 77), 18th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.4 percent (65 for 77), 9th. Stars - Power play: 15.2 percent (9 for 59), 24th. Penalty killing: 83.1 percent (59 for 71), 12th.

GOALTENDERS: Kings - LaBarbera (6-1-0, 1.70 GAA); Garon (2-3-0, 3.43). Stars - Turco (4-4-1, 3.64); Hedberg (2-0-0, 3.16).


LAST MEETING: Oct. 20; Kings, 7-2. At Dallas, Craig Conroy had a goal and two assists, and LaBarbera made 28 saves to win his fourth straight to start the season.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 2-1-0 on the road; Stars - 3-3-1 at home.

Associated Press
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