Stars-Kings Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 09, 2011
The Dallas Stars' longest road trip of the season may have come at a bad time, given their recent struggles away from home. A visit to Staples Center may not be a big help, especially if the Los Angeles Kings can rediscover their scoring touch. Los Angeles looks for its third win in four meetings with Dallas this season as the teams face off Saturday night. The Stars began their five-game trip with a 5-2 loss in San Jose on Thursday, allowing two goals within the first two minutes of the game. They came back to tie it on goals from Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow before allowing three second-period goals. "I thought we played pretty good," coach Glen Gulutzan said. "I think we lost some luster. I wish we could have mustered a little more in the third." Morrow, who added an assist, had missed the previous six games with an upper-body injury. "It felt good to be part of it again, though a loss still feels the same," said Morrow, who has one goal and one assist in his last eight versus the Kings. The Stars (15-11-1) have gone 4-8-1 after winning 11 of 14 to begin the season, and they've been outscored 20-8 in losing five of six on the road. Los Angeles has gone 10-3-1 in the last 14 matchups at Staples Center against Dallas, including a 1-0 victory Oct. 22 in the only meeting there this season. The Kings were able to overcome a slow offensive night in that contest but haven't been able to do so lately. Los Angeles (13-11-4) has lost three in a row and has failed to score more than two goals in seven straight, going 2-4-1. That stretch began with a 3-2 loss in Dallas on Nov. 23 as Steve Ott's overtime goal ended the Stars' four-game skid in this series. The Kings average 2.3 goals per game to rank near the bottom of the league, and their 12 goals since the last meeting with the Stars are the fewest in the NHL during that span. Anze Kopitar leads the team with 27 points, though he hasn't scored a goal in his last seven games and has only three assists in that span. "Are we the most offensive team in the League? Probably not. Are we the most defensive team? I don't know," Kopitar said. "Neutral-zone forecheck, that's what it is. Everybody is pulling back." Missing Mike Richards the last three games hasn't helped. Richards, the team leader with 11 goals, hasn't skated since suffering a concussion Dec. 1 against Florida. There is no timetable for his return. Richards had three assists and Dustin Brown had a goal and two assists in a 5-3 win over the Stars on Oct. 27. Jonathan Quick made 30 saves in that contest and 35 in last month's meeting - his only loss in his last seven starts versus Dallas. He has a 1.71 goals-against average in that span. It's unclear who will get the start in net for the Stars, though Kari Lehtonen remains out with a groin injury. Andrew Raycroft made 23 saves in the first meeting in Los Angeles but has allowed five goals in back-to-back starts. Backup Richard Bachman replaced Raycroft for the third period Thursday, stopping all 11 shots he faced in his second NHL appearance.
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