GAME: Los Angeles Kings (24-14-2) at Dallas Stars (24-11-1).
TIME: Saturday, 8 p.m. EST.
Before opening 2006 by playing each other, the top teams in the Pacific Division will square off to close 2005 when the Los Angeles Kings visit the Dallas Stars.
This contest opens a home-and-home series, with the finale coming Jan. 2 in Los Angeles.
The Kings enter Saturday's game with a one-point lead on the Stars in the Pacific. All three meetings between the teams this season have been in Dallas, and Los Angeles has won the last two by outscoring the Stars 13-5.
Los Angeles defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky scored three goals in the most recent meeting, a 6-3 win on Nov. 2, for his first career hat trick. Visnovsky has eight points in three games against the Stars this season.
The Kings have won six of eight overall, but are coming off a 6-5 overtime loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night.
Derek Armstrong had his first career hat trick, but the Coyotes' Keith Ballard scored a short-handed goal with 1:08 left in overtime.
"I was just doing my job," Armstrong said. "If other guys aren't scoring then I need to score. We're a team here."
Armstrong's final goal came with 1:11 left in regulation and sent the game to overtime.
"It's a terrible way to lose," Armstrong said. "You get down 5-4 with a minute left and score a goal. That's a good way to get a point but a bad way to lose."
Center Craig Conroy assisted on Armstrong's second goal and has a six-game point streak with four goals and six assists during that span.
Goaltender Jason LaBarbera lost his sixth straight start, allowing an average of 4.5 goals during that skid.
Starting goaltender Mathieu Garon is likely to be back in net, having won seven of his last eight games while posting a 2.46 goals-against average and .921 save percentage.
The Kings have scored six power-play goals in the last three games, but have given up 11 in their last five.
The Stars have been outstanding against the power play of late. They have not allowed a power-play goal since Dec. 18, a streak of 36 straight kills through six games.
Dallas regained its scoring touch with the man advantage and goaltender Marty Turco made 17 saves for his third shutout of the season in a 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
After converting only four of its previous 42 power-play chances, Dallas went 3-for-10. Sergei Zubov and Jere Lehtinen both scored on 5-on-3 advantages within 41 seconds in the second period.
"It was good for us," Lehtinen said. "We've been struggling on the 5-on-3s and we haven't been scoring much on the power play. Those goals were huge. Those led us to a win."
Bill Guerin, who had a career-high 41 goals for the Boston Bruins in 2001-02, scored the first power-play goal for only his second goal in the last 16 games.
"It's just one," Guerin said. "I have to keep moving forward and not make a big deal of it."
Dallas is 6-0-2 playing on New Year's Eve since 1993.
STANDINGS: Kings - 50 points, 1st place, Pacific Division. Stars - 49 points, 2nd place, 1 PB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Kings - Pavol Demitra, 20 goals and 49 points; Demitra and Visnovsky, 29 assists; Sean Avery, 136 PIM. Stars - Lehtinen, 20 goals; Mike Modano, 24 assists and 37 points; Steve Ott, 87 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Kings - Power play: 15.3 percent (42 for 274), 22nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 80.9 percent (203 for 251), 21st (tied). Stars - Power play: 16.2 percent (39 for 241), 20th. Penalty killing: 85.6 percent (196 for 229), 3rd.
GOALTENDERS: Kings - Garon (16-8-0, 0 SO, 2.73 GAA); LaBarbera (8-6-2, 3.10). Stars - Turco (19-10-1, 3, 2.46); Johan Hedberg (5-1-0, 3.33).
SEASON SERIES: Kings, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 2; Kings 6-3. At Dallas, the Kings took the lead for good in the first period on goals by Avery and Jeff Cowan.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Kings - 11-8-2 on the road; Stars - 11-7-1 at home.