The Dallas Stars ended their worst skid of the season with a road victory over the NHL's best home team. Now they hope to get a win streak going by beating a team with one of the league's worst home records.
The Stars look to build off a big victory in their chase for a playoff spot when they visit the struggling Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
A five-game slide dropped Dallas (30-26-7) from sixth into a tie for 10th in a tightly packed Western Conference race, but the Stars bounced back with Tuesday night's 4-1 win in San Jose. It was the West-leading Sharks' sixth loss in 32 home games and most lopsided defeat this season at HP Pavilion.
James Neal netted two goals as the Dallas offense came alive in the opener of a three-game trek through California after scoring six times during the losing streak - all home games.
After one game off following a franchise-record 32 consecutive starts, Marty Turco looked refreshed Tuesday, stopping 24 shots and keeping San Jose off the board over the final 50:53.
"It was just real strong from start to finish, all aspects," said center Mike Modano, who had a goal and an assist. "We were due for a strong performance. We couldn't go the other way any longer."
A victory Thursday could move Dallas as high as seventh place in the West.
The Stars hope Brendan Morrison can provide a boost to their playoff chase. They claimed the 33-year-old center off waivers from Anaheim on Wednesday, and he joins Dallas needing only four points to reach 500 for his career.
While it's uncertain if Morrison will take the ice Thursday, it seems likely Turco will after ending a personal four-game losing streak Tuesday. He's started all three of Dallas' matchups with the Kings this season, going 1-1-1 with a 2.23 goals-against average, but Turco and the Stars have lost four of their last five games in Los Angeles.
The Kings, though, are 1-5-2 in their last eight games at Staples Center and are a conference-worst 13-13-8 at home.
Plus, Los Angeles (26-28-9) is on the verge of tying its longest losing streak of the season after ending a five-game road trip with four straight defeats.
Despite scoring four times in the first two periods Tuesday night in Columbus, the Kings fell 5-4 as Jon Quick allowed the Blue Jackets to score two unanswered goals.
"At the end of the day, their best players made the plays to win the game," Los Angeles coach Terry Murray said. "That's what it comes down to in a critical situation. That's the way it's supposed to be. Their best players stepped up and got it done."
With Quick giving up 11 goals in three straight losses, Murray could look to Erik Ersberg, who signed a two-year contract extension Wednesday. Ersberg has started all three games this season against Dallas and is 3-1-1 all-time versus the Stars, giving up two goals in four of those starts.
Center Anze Kopitar has scored in each of the last two games for Los Angeles, which has averaged 1.86 goals during a 1-6-0 stretch.