NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, March 12th (All times eastern)
Los Angeles Kings (39-22-5) at Dallas Stars (29-25-12), 8:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Stars haven't done much to further their playoff chances since the Olympic break, but an upcoming six-game homestand for a team that has been strong this year as the host could do the trick.
Dallas begins that residency tonight at American Airlines Center looking for its first win of the season over the Los Angeles Kings, who will have forward Justin Williams back in the lineup when they seek a fifth straight victory over the Stars.
Having dropped four of five since the break, the Stars find themselves seven points back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 16 games to go. Dallas went 1-2-0 on a recent three-game road trip, which included a big shootout win over Washington on Monday before Wednesday's disappointing 5-3 setback to Buffalo.
The teams combined for six goals in the first period on Wednesday, with the Stars netting three of those tallies. Jamie Benn had a goal and an assist in the frame, while Toby Peterson and Steve Ott also scored. However, the Sabres got the only goal of the second period and then capped the scoring with an empty-net goal in the third.
Dallas fell to 11-17-7 on the road this year as compared to 18-8-5 at home, where the club has won seven of its last 10.
"Things are going to be extremely tough. It's 12 points, and those are huge. It's our season," Ott said of Dallas' upcoming six-game homestand. "If we don't get the ship in the right direction here on our homestand, we may as well call the season."
Marty Turco made 38 saves and Brad Richards had an assist to give him a goal and five assists over a five-game point streak as well as three goals and 10 helpers over his last 11 contests.
Richards has four assists in four games versus the Kings this year while James Neal has three goals in the four meetings. However, the Stars are 0-2-2 versus the Kings this season and they have also lost six of seven and eight of the last 10 meetings.
Los Angeles has also won three straight and five of its last six at Dallas.
The Kings come into this one having lost three of four, but they did earn a point last time out with a 3-2 overtime setback to the Blackhawks. Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar scored less than two minutes apart in the second period, but a turnover by Brad Richardson in overtime set up the Blackhawks' winning goal.
Jonathan Quick made 40 saves for Los Angeles, which is fifth overall in the West, two points back of Phoenix. However, Quick left the team on Thursday after his wife went into labor with the couple's first child and will miss tonight's game. Either backup Erik Ersberg or the recently recalled Jonathan Bernier will start tonight.
Los Angeles will also get Williams back into the lineup much earlier than expected. The 28-year-old has been out since suffering a broken leg on December 26 that was expected to sideline him for up to three months. Williams has eight goals and 16 assists in 33 games and will go right back onto the first line.
"He's going to go right back with [Ryan] Smyth and Kopitar tomorrow, and get him right into the heat of the battle," Kings head coach Terry Murray told his team's Web site on Thursday. "Take advantage of a fresh player. It will be like adding a new guy through a deal, really."
Kopitar has been red-hot as of late, as he has five goals and four assists over a career high-tying eight-game point streak. The forward also has 14 goals and 14 helpers over his last 22 games and six goals in four contests versus the Stars this year.
Alexander Frolov has added a pair of goals and four helpers in the season series. He scored and set up two other goals in a 5-1 victory at Dallas when the clubs last met on March 2.
03/12 10:45:50 ET