Jan 12, 2011; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Dallas Stars defenseman Sheldon Souray (44) grabs Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty (8) in a headlock after a collision with Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) in the third period at the Staples Center. The Stars defeated the Kings 5-4 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

LA Kings @ Dallas Stars- Pre-game 2.12.12

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Today ends a frustrating road trip for the Los Angeles Kings in Dallas, Texas. This is the sixth and final meeting of the Pacific Division rivals. The Stars have won the past 3 consecutive games against the Kings this season. The last meeting between the two clubs was January 12 in a 5-4 Dallas win. How well will the Kings fare in the Lone Star State?

The Kings desperately need to find ways to win. They have been outscored on this 6 game road trip 6 to 9. So many decisions this season have been decided by 2 or fewer goals, and the third best defensive team in the league sabotages themselves by not fully understanding their scoring culture. In this series, the goals are even at 13 a piece

 

In net, the Kings give Jonathan Quick the nod (2-0-2), while Dallas is playing Kari Lehtonen (2-1-0).

 

Fortunately, for the Kings tonight, Stars scratches are Brenden Morrow and Sheldon Souray, keys to what was earlier success for the Big D. Souray, whose cheap shots on Justin Williams went unnoticed Jan. 12, is out with a foot injury. While captain, Brendan Morrow is suffering from a nagging neck injury which I assume is from bull riding because that is what Texans do I am told.

 

The Kings are without natural center and temporary right-winger, Jarret Stoll, who irritated his abductor muscle against the Florida Panthers last Thursday. Stoll will miss at least a week due to the injury. Jordan Nolan and Dwight King have been called up to replace him.

 

There is not much to say other than the Kings need find a way to score goals and limit Dallas’ scoring chances. Shutting down Jamie Benn would be a good start. Benn has 4 points in 5 games this season against the Kings. The first five tilts have had plenty of scoring, scrums and selfless plays accompanied with poor officiating. However, it’s up to the Kings to dictate the tempo of the game even though they played yesterday on Long Island. Anze Kopitar has always had success against Dallas with six points (1G-5A) in five meetings.

 

If they Kings can continue to get Lehtonen to surrender goals on his 3.23 GAA this series versus the Kings, then they can return home with a sense of dignity. Fans are biting their nails in what is consistently getting to be a tight Western Conference playoff race and the possibility of the Kings missing out of the playoffs entirely.

 

These are two crucial points tonight as the Kings (7th) sit only 4 points ahead of Dallas (11th) and 1 point ahead of Phoenix (8th).

 

I predict a 4-2 LA Kings win.

 

There is an empty netter in the end.

 

GO KINGS!

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Tags: Anze Kopitar Brenden Morrow Dallas Stars Drew Doughty Jarret Stoll Jonathan Quick Justin Williams Kari Lehtonen Los Angeles Kings NHL NHL Playoffs Sheldon Souray

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