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Stars aim to continue playoff push against Kings

by Davis Harper /

KINGS (39-22-13) at STARS (18-17-3)


Last 10: Los Angeles 5-3-2; Dallas 5-5-0

Season series: This is the fourth of five meetings. Dallas won the first two showdowns, over which goaltender Kari Lehtonen held the Kings to just two goals on 57 shots. Los Angeles held off Dallas in the most recent meeting, on March 31, to move its record in Dallas to 11-1-2 over the past 14 meetings.

Big story: Can Los Angeles continue to solidify its fourth-place position in the Western Conference? Or will the Stars, winners of two straight, keep their Stanley Cup Playoffs push alive?

Team scope:

Kings: While Los Angeles likely won’t catch the Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division standings – the Kings are nine points back with nine games remaining – it can put a stranglehold on the fourth position.

With 48 points, Los Angeles sits a point ahead of the San Jose Sharks and two clear of the Minnesota Wild – though those teams each have a game in hand – thanks largely to a recent hot streak. The Kings went 3-0-1 on a four-game road trip to end March, and are 5-1-2 overall since March 25.

The Kings had won two straight at home before traveling to Anaheim on Sunday. Against the Ducks, Los Angeles erased three one-goal deficits, the final coming via a Dustin Brown tip-in with under four minutes to play to force overtime. Though the Ducks prevailed in the shootout, the Kings’ 38-22 shot advantage had defenseman Drew Doughty wanting more.

"It's frustrating because I think we deserved better," Doughty said. "We outplayed them. I don't think there's any doubt about that. We outshot them by a pretty big margin and we came back three times down a goal, and that shows a lot of character and how bad we want to win. It's just too bad we didn't get both."

Stars: Dallas is looking for its third straight win over a playoff-eligible division opponent. The Stars are coming off wins against Anaheim and San Jose, both away from home. With Dallas sitting smack in the middle of the Western playoff cusp – the Stars (39 points) are tied or within one point of four other teams, all of whom are chasing the eighth-place Detroit Red Wings (43 points) – it will need to complete the California sweep to stay in the playoff hunt.

"The situation we're in, every game is important," forward Ray Whitney said. "If we have any chance at all (to reach playoffs), it's going to be a pretty impressive run at the end."

Dallas, which traded away veteran names like Brenden Morrow, Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy at the trade deadline, has benefitted from an infusion of youthful acquisitions. Lane MacDermid, who is questionable with a lower-body injury, scored twice in his first two games with the Stars.

Alex Chiasson has three goals in his first three games, including two in the 5-4 shootout win against San Jose on Sunday.

Who’s hot: Jeff Carter has five goals in his past six games, including a goal in the win over Dallas on March 31. … Eric Nystrom is a key veteran presence for Dallas, and had a goal in each of the Stars’ recent victories.

Injury report: Dustin Penner has missed four games with a lower-body injury. Penner was activated from the injured reserve, but is questionable to return against the Stars.

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