Benn to miss second straight game with injury as Stars face Kings
Dallas looks to climb back into a playoff spot against Los Angeles, which has dropped nine straight gamesby Mark Stepneski @StarsInsideEdge / Inside Edge
Jamie Benn will miss a second straight game with an upper-body injury when the Dallas Stars take on the Los Angeles Kings tonight at Staples Center (9:30 p.m. CT; FS-SW; KTCK).
The captain skated this morning with the team and took part in an optional practice Wednesday, but is still not ready to return and remains day-to-day.
Meanwhile, forward Andrew Cogliano will not play tonight because of an upper-body injury suffered in Tuesday's game in Las Vegas. Cogliano, who will miss a game due to injury for the first time in his 12-year NHL career, has returned to Dallas for treatment.
"We think for sure by Tuesday at home (against the Rangers) he's a player," Stars coach Jim Montgomery said. "Possibly by Saturday in St. Louis."
With Cogliano and Benn out, the Stars will do some line juggling. The top line of Roope Hintz, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov will intact. Denis Gurianov will play left wing with Radek Faksa and Blake Comeau. Joel L'Esperance, called up Wednesday from the AHL, will center Mattias Janmark and Jason Spezza. The fourth line will stay together with Jason Dickinson at center and Valeri Nichushkin and Brett Ritchie on the wings.
Montgomery will make one change on defense, bringing in Taylor Fedun to play the left side on the third pair with Ben Lovejoy. Jamie Oleksiak will be a scratch for the first time since he was acquired from Pittsburgh in late January.
Video: Stars well aware of standings before facing Kings
"We need him to raise his level of game," Montgomery said of Oleksiak. "The opportunity to watch will recharge his batteries, have a reset, but also instill a little more urgency in his game because when he plays with urgency he is so impactful and when he doesn't it goes the other way."
Anton Khudobin will get the start in goal tonight.
The Stars (31-27-5) come into tonight's game one point out of a playoff spot. They fell into ninth place in the Western Conference last night after Colorado knocked off Vancouver in a shootout. It's the first time the Stars have been out of a playoff spot since the Christmas break.
Montgomery and his staff didn't bring up the standings initially this morning, focusing instead on the Kings and the Stars' play. Then they decided it needed to be discussed.
"But after a listless morning skate, I let (assistant coach Rick Bowness) address the team," Montgomery said.
"We directly talked about where we are and if people didn't realize it and realize the desperation we need to play with, because we didn't come here this morning with the proper attitude and work ethic to get us better for tonight."
Opposition watch: Los Angeles Kings
The Kings (23-33-7) have lost nine straight games (0-6-3) and are coming off a 6-1 loss at Carolina on Tuesday.
The Kings have been outscored 38-21 (excluding goals awarded for shootout decisions) during the nine-game skid. Two of their last three losses have been by 6-1 scores. The Kings have scored two or fewer goals in five of their last six games and have allowed ten power play goals in the last nine games.
Jonathan Quick was the first goaltender off the ice for the Kings this morning, so it looks like he is in goal tonight.
This is the third and final meeting of the season between the Stars and Kings this season. Both teams are 1-1-0 in the season series. The Stars won 4-2 in Dallas on Oct. 23, and the Kings won 2-1 in Dallas on Jan. 17.
The Stars are 12-17-3 on the road.
The Kings are 12-15-2 at home.
Dallas is 7-6-1 since the All-Star break.
Los Angeles is 3-7-3 since the All-Star break.
The Stars rank 29th in goal scoring (2.51) and fifth in goals against (2.63).
The Kings rank 30th in goals scoring (2.33) and are tied for 20th in goals against (3.13).
The Stars have scored on the power play in the last two games. It's the first time they've scored on the man advantage in consecutive games since tallying with the man-advantage in six straight games from Dec. 29 to Jan. 8.
The Kings have allowed a power-play goal in eight of their last nine games and are 17-for-27 (63.0 percent) on the penalty kill during that stretch.
Seguin leads the Stars in goals (26) and points (58).
Anze Kopitar leads the Kings in goals (17) and points (44).
Who: Dallas Stars at Los Angeles Kings
Where: Staples Center
When: 9:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310-AM/96.7-FM
Stars projected lineup
Roope Hintz - Tyler Seguin - Alexander Radulov
Denis Gurianov - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Mattias Janmark - Joel L'Esperance - Jason Spezza
Valeri Nichushkin - Jason Dickinson - Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Roman Polak
Taylor Fedun - Ben Lovejoy
Scratched: Jamie Oleksiak, Julius Honka
Injured: Jamie Benn (upper body), Andrew Cogliano (upper body), Mats Zuccarello (broken arm), Tyler Pitlick (wrist surgery), Martin Hanzal (back), Marc Methot (knee surgery), Stephen Johns (post-traumatic headaches)
Kings projected lineup
Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Tyler Toffoli
Brenden Leipsic - Jeff Carter - Ilya Kovalchuk
Alex Iafallo - Adrian Kempe - Jonny Brodzinski
Kyle Clifford - Trevor Lewis - Austin Wagner
Derek Forbort - Drew Doughty
Dion Phaneuf - Matt Roy
Kurtis MacDermid - Sean Walker
Scratched: Paul Ladue, Matt Luff
Injured: Alec Martinez (upper body)
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mark Stepneski has covered the Stars for DallasStars.com since 2012. Follow him on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.