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Stars-Kings Preview

GAME: Dallas Stars (24-12-1) at Los Angeles Kings (25-14-2).

TIME: Monday, 10:30 p.m. EST.

Coming off another home loss to the Los Angeles Kings, the Dallas Stars return to the road, where they have played as well as any team in the NHL this season.

Dallas and Los Angeles close out a home-and-home series at Staples Center when the Pacific Division rivals meet for the fifth time this season.

Despite a strong third period, the Stars could not overcome an early deficit and lost 3-2 to the Kings at the American Airlines Center on Saturday night. Mike Modano had two power-play goals in the third - when Dallas held a 17-1 advantage in shots on goal - but the Stars were unable to get the equalizer after pulling Marty Turco for an extra attacker with 47 seconds left.

Although Dallas finished strong, the Stars have succeeded this season when they have gotten off to a fast start. They are 15-0 when leading after the first period.

Saturday's loss was the Stars' third in four home games against the Kings in 2005-06. Perhaps to Dallas' advantage, the remaining four matchups are in Los Angeles.

"They seem to have our number here, so we'll have to play solid road hockey when we get there," Stars center Jason Arnott said.

The Stars are 4-1 in their last five games away from Dallas, and their 13-4 road record is among the league's best.

Los Angeles got 38 saves from Mathieu Garon on Saturday in winning for the seventh time in nine contests. Garon has won three straight starts and eight of his last nine.

After Modano's second goal in a 1:25 span early in the third, Kings coach Andy Murray called a timeout and his team responded with better defensive play thereafter.

"I told them how we played in the last 12 minutes would be important," Murray said. "Most teams would like to have the lead in the last 12 minutes in Dallas. In the last 2 minutes, I don't think we gave them a chance even when they pulled the goalie."

STANDINGS: Stars - 49 points, 2nd place, 3 PB, Pacific Division. Kings - 52 points, 1st place, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Stars - Jere Lehtinen, 20 goals; Modano, 24 assists and 39 points; Steve Ott, 87 PIM. Kings - Pavol Demitra, 20 goals, 30 assists and 50 points; Sean Avery, 136 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Stars - Power play: 16.5 percent (41 for 249), 18th (tied) in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.6 percent (203 for 237), 3rd. Kings - Power play: 15.2 percent (43 for 282), 22nd (tied). Penalty killing: 80.7 percent (209 for 259), 23rd.

GOALTENDERS: Stars - Turco (19-11-1, 3 SO, 2.48 GAA); Johan Hedberg (5-1-0, 3.33). Kings - Garon (17-8-0, 2.70); Jason LaBarbera (8-6-2, 3.10).

SEASON SERIES: Kings, 3-1.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 31; Kings, 3-2. At Dallas, Alexander Frolov had a goal in the first period and Derek Armstrong and Tom Kostopoulos scored in the second as the Kings improved to 8-3-1 against division foes.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Stars - 13-4-0 on the road; Kings - 13-6-0 at home.

Associated Press
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