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Stars' road trip winds down with battle vs. Kings

by Dan Rosen
STARS (38-27-11) at KINGS (44-27-6)


Last 10:
Dallas 2-4-4; Los Angeles 7-2-1

Season series: Los Angeles has won three of the five meetings between the clubs this season and has gained seven points (3-1-1).

Big Story: The Kings are trying to secure a playoff spot and get as high a seed as possible, while the Stars are keeping hope alive that they are still in the playoff hunt despite not playing well in the past couple of weeks. The Stars could be five points out by the time they wake up Saturday morning. The Kings can move within two points of clinching a playoff berth if they beat Dallas.

Team Scope:

Stars: They knew a five-game road trip bridging March into April could determine their playoff fate, and the Stars have not responded well at all. They are 0-2-1 so far on the trip, with regulation losses in Nashville and San Jose and a shootout loss at Phoenix. They were blown out of HP Pavilion by the Sharks on Thursday, 6-0. San Jose scored three goals in the third period.

"It was a bit of a mess," captain Brenden Morrow said following Thursday's loss. "We're running out of games, and it's starting to be do-or-die."

Dallas has to start winning in order to challenge for a playoff berth. The Stars close out the five-game trip Saturday in Los Angeles and then Sunday in Anaheim. If they can win both, or at least get three out of four points, the final week looks promising with two games against the 14th-place Avalanche plus games against the 13th-place Blue Jackets and the 11th-place Wild.

Kings: They're 1-1 without leading scorers Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams. The Kings won in Edmonton on Tuesday but lost 3-1 to Vancouver on Thursday. The Stars pose a good test for the Kings because they're a team that is fighting for a playoff berth, whereas Edmonton has long been eliminated and the Canucks are the best team in the NHL. The Kings will have to match the Stars' desperation.

L.A. had won four in a row heading into Vancouver, allowing only five goals during the streak. The Kings have scored three goals in the two games since Kopitar was lost for the season. The Canucks held them without a shot on goal in the third period Thursday and captain Dustin Brown lamented how they didn't attack after Kyle Clifford gave them a 1-0 lead in the first period.

"I thought we were too tentative from the start,'' Brown said. "We had a one-goal lead, and we just didn't go after it. We kind of sat back, and when you have a team like that (Vancouver), they're going to shove it down your throat if you're going to sit back and not attack."

Who's Hot: Brown had two goals against Edmonton for his third straight two-point game, but he was shut out by the Canucks.

Injury Report: Kopitar is done for the season and Williams won't come back unless the Kings make a good run in the postseason. … The Stars are dealing with a couple of injuries, but nothing as significant as the Kings. Adam Burish (lower body) has missed seven straight games. Karlis Skrastins (lacerated leg) has been out for four games but is due back soon. Nicklas Grossman (sprained knee ligament) and Brian Sutherby (back) are out indefinitely.
Stat Pack: Prior to the third period Thursday in Vancouver, the Kings had been held without a shot in a period only four times in their history. It hadn't happened since 2003. … Stars leading scorer Brad Richards has no points in his last three games and just 6 points in 10 games since returning from a concussion. The Stars are 2-4-4 with Richards back in the lineup. … The 52 shots the Stars allowed Thursday were the most they've given up this season. They've allowed 30 or more shots in five of the last eight games.

Puck Drop:
"We've been saying that we've got games, we've got points, but we're running out of them," Morrow said. "Playoffs is what it's all about, and the Stanley Cup. We want an opportunity to do that."

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