LA Kings (26-19-11, 63 pts) @ Dallas Stars (28-23-3, 59 pts)
5:00 PM CT, February 12, 2012
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
It seems the last week of games have all been critical for the Stars and that certainly doesn't change tonight with a division rival coming into town. Dallas has dropped five points in the last five games and now sits four points out of the playoffs. Dallas played great against Buffalo on Friday, but unfortunately were burned by their own stupidity and the continuously struggling defense.
This will be the sixth and final regular season meeting between these two teams and Dallas really needs to make this count. The Kings are four points ahead of the Stars but Dallas has two games in hand, which could be game-changers if they can take advantage of them.
After Dallas took a 2-0 lead four minutes into the third period, Radek Dvorak took a terrible holding penalty that would immediately lead the Sabres scoring a power-play goal. The game turned on its head after that and the Sabres owned the third period from that point on. They outshot Dallas 13-3 and it wasn't until the very shot with 40 seconds left that they would be able to tie the game. Dallas would lose in the shootout and saw a precious point fly away from them.
Kari Lehtonen has carried this team (he made about five saves that could be saves of the week or even the month) and he'll get the start again this evening as Dallas rides the hot hand. He's 2-1-0 against the Kings this season but hasn't had good numbers as he's allowed 10 goals in those three games (3.21 GAA and a .892 save percentage). He might not need to be that great tonight as the Kings are a terrible offensive team but it never hurts when he's on top of his game.
Brenden Morrow is out with his neck issues and Sheldon Souray is still out after getting hit in the ankle by a puck. Vernon Fiddler was also hit with a puck (from Mark Fistric) but it looks like he'll be fine for tonight.
more after the jump
It honestly seems like I say this everytime, but fans should know what to expect from the Kings now. There's no offense, a lot of defense and even more Dustin Penner jokes (though his recent scratches might put an end to that). Tonight marks the end of a six game road trip for the Kings, most of it spent along the east coast. They're 1-3-1 so far.
The Kings ended up in an overtime game yesterday against the Islanders that they would lose. Whether the Kings are tired or not from the game and subsequent flight is yet to be seen, but the game should have taxed LA a little. The Islanders didn't spend much time in the offensive zone during the game but they did get a lot of shots late and played physical (48 hits). Stars and Kings games are usually physical so that could tire out the legs of LA late in today's game.
LA has scored one or fewer goals in four of the five games on this road trip. They lost three of those games by one goal. Defensive mistakes might not even cost Dallas (fat chance that happens) but this is a division game so anything could happen. The Stars have actually been killed by the non-scorers on the Kings this season (the Scott Parse and Kevin Westgarths of the world) so it might be smart to look out for them tonight.
I would expect Jonathan Quick to start tonight as he's been a thorn in the Stars side.
LA is without forwards Simon Gagne (concussion), Scott Parse (hip) and Jarret Stoll (lower body).
Notes and thoughts:
- The Kings are 11-8-7 on the road.
- Dallas is 15-10-2 at home.
- The Kings are 13 of 13 on the PK in the last six games. On this road trip, the PP is 1 of 9.
- Dallas has been solid on PK at home lately. They are 14 of 14 in the last five games. The PP has been surprisingly effective, tallying a goal in four of the six games this month.
- In the last game between these two, the Kings scored 3 PP goals.
- October 22 at STAPLES Center: Dallas 0 - LA 1
- October 27 at American Airlines Center: Dallas 3 - LA 5
- Nov. 23 at American Airlines Center: Dallas 3 - LA 2 (OT)
- Dec. 10 at STAPLES Center: Dallas 2 - LA 1
- Jan. 12 at STAPLES Center: Dallas 5 - LA 4 (SO)
|Goals per game||2.6||2.6|
|Shots per game||33||29|
|Hits per game||31.4||30.4|
|PIM per game||13.8||18.6|
|Power Play||3 of 23 (13%)||4 of 20 (20%)|
|Penalty Kill||16 of 20 (80%)||20 of 23 (87%)|