A balanced offense has provided a quick start to the Dallas Stars, who begin a difficult early-season stretch Thursday with the first of consecutive road games against the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center.
The Stars (2-0-0) were hoping for someone to fill the void left by the departure of Jason Arnott, who was second on the team with 32 goals and 76 points last season before leaving for Nashville via free agency. Instead, multiple players have contributed timely goals, and six Stars players have scored in the first two games.
Captain Brenden Morrow scored and added an assist in Dallas' 3-1 victory Saturday over New Jersey in its home opener, and the Stars killed off 8 of 9 power-play opportunities.
"We were pretty solid in a lot of areas, but there is still some room for improvement," said coach Dave Tippett. "We had some timely goals and killed some penalties. ... It was a step forward, but we'll still be pushing to get better."
Niklas Hagman and Eric Lindros also scored for Dallas, which hopes to solve its special teams problems during its four-game road trip. The Stars are 0-for-9 on the power play and have logged a league-high 58 penalty minutes in their two victories.
"That is one of the things on the road you can't do," Stars defenseman Philippe Boucher said of the penalty minutes. "Some calls might be shaky, but that's what it is. ... There's no excuse for it. You've got to find a way to stay disciplined and hopefully we turn that around where we get eight or nine power plays."
Following this two-game set with the Kings, the Stars also play at Pacific Division rivals Anaheim and San Jose before returning home to face Chicago on Oct. 20. The three opponents are a combined 8-1-1.
"The road trip poses a lot of challenges, but ones that we're looking forward to," said goaltender Marty Turco, who is 6-8-2 with a 2.84 goal-against average lifetime against the Kings. "We're going to be playing these teams a lot this year, so it's going to be important for us to play them well for the first time in their arenas and hopefully get some points out of the deal."
After opening the season with a a loss, the Kings (2-1-0) have posted consecutive wins, including a 4-2 victory Tuesday over the New York Islanders. Defenseman Brent Sopel scored the go-ahead goal with six seconds left in the second period on a power-play opportunity. The goal was his second of the season, equaling his total in 68 games last season with the Islanders and Kings.
"Last year was miserable. Getting these two points against them was a little bit sweeter, for sure," Sopel said. "There were a lot of things wrong there, and I was happy to get out of there and go to an organization like L.A."
This is the third game of a six-game homestand for Los Angeles, which hosts Dallas again on Saturday.