MINI-PREVIEW: STARS VS. KINGS
Looking for their second straight win after snapping a three-game losing streak with a home win over Arizona on Thursday, the Dallas Stars (7-9-4) play host to the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings (11-5-4) on Saturday night. Game time at the American Airlines Center is 7:00 p.m. CST. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest.
Barring a meeting in the playoffs next spring, the Stars and Kings won’t see one another again until next season after tonight. Tonight’s game is the third and final meeting of the regular season series between the clubs, with all three games taking place in the month of November.
On Nov. 4 at the AAC, the visiting Kings skated off with a hard-fought 3-1 win. On Nov. 13 at the Staples Center, Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen had his best game of the season in a 27-save shutout victory that saw the Stars capture a 2-0 win.
Over the last two days, the Stars have made headlines around the NHL for a pair of roster-related moves. The club pre-empted Jason Spezza’s potential unrestricted free agency next summer by signing the veteran star to a four-year, $30 million ($7.5 million cap hit) contract extension. The deal also includes a no-trade clause.
Yesterday, the club traded defenseman Brenden Dillon to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defenseman Jason Demers and a 2016 third-round pick. Demers is the superior puck mover of the two and gives Dallas a second righthanded shooting defensemen in their starting blueline while Dillon is the more physical player and was an emerging team leader.
The Stars enter this game coming off a 3-1 win over the Coyotes on Thursday, which snapped a seven-game winless skid on home ice and marked just the second home win of the season for Dallas. The Stars trailed 1-0 through two periods before the floodgates opened for three unanswered goals in the final period.
Tonight’s game is a third match of a five-game homestand. There will be a special pregame ceremony before the opening faceoff. The Stars will honor franchise icon Mike Modano for his recent induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
On the Dallas injury front, checking winger Ryan Garbutt (upper body) could miss a few more games. Second-year right winger Valeri Nichushkin (hip surgery) is out until sometime around March. Rookie defenseman Patrik Nemeth (severe forearm laceration from a skate cut) is out for the season.
Los Angeles brings a three-game winning streak into tonight’s tilt. The club is coming off a 3-2 home win over Carolina on Thursday. On the Kings injury and absence front, defenseman Alec Martinez (finger) is out of the lineup due to injury while defenseman Slava Voynov (indefinite NHL suspension) was recently formally brought up on criminal charges for domestic battery.
One area to watch tonight: The LA power play has heated up of late, going 6-for-12 during the current three-game winning streak. The Stars’ penalty killing has yielded once in each of the team’s last three games.