The Dallas Stars have a winning record against every division but their own. Two previous defeats at the hands of the L.A. Kings contributed to the Stars 4-6-1 record against the Pacific this season, and that's something the Stars would like to turn around if they're to keep their slim division lead.
Los Angeles' last trip to the AAC saw them take a 5-2 win that was less lopsided than the score suggests. Goals nine seconds apart in the middle of the second period blew a close game wide open, and a short handed tally in the third sealed the deal.
Dallas has won their last two at home after dropping five straight, and are looking to sweep a three game home stand before embarking on their first of two Western Canadian road swings this year. The Kings, meanwhile, ended their home stand on a high but finished it just 2-6, and now must play 13 of their next 16 on the road, including a monstrous 10 game road trip next month.
L.A. enters play on Monday tied for 9th place with three other teams and they're looking to prove they can put their putrid home stand behind them and get back into the race for the Pacific where they and the Sharks figured to be at the beginning of the year, rather then 10 points back of your Dallas Stars.
Remember the game is on Versus tonight, but Darryl Reaugh will still be with us.
Continued after the jump...
Dallas is looking for their third winning streak of four games or more this year. They've yet to suffer a regulation loss in the New Year, going 5-0-1 in January, but remain only four points ahead of the red hot Phoenix Coyotes who will just not go away.
As good as the Stars have been at home this year, they face a disturbing trend in the Los Angeles Kings who are 7-0-1 in their last eight games at the AAC. The home crowd has not witnessed a Kings regulation defeat since December of 2007.
Matt Niskanen's palm laceration is getting better and he could take part in pregame activities tonight, said Marc Crawford yesterday, but he will not play. They could get him back sometime on the Canada trip. Toby Petersen is still out with a bruise on his foot and is not yet close to returning, so the Stars still carry only 12 healthy forwards.
Kari Lehtonen, having played magnificently against his former team on Saturday night, will get the start Monday. Marc Crawford will then choose between he and Raycroft for the back to back starts in Edmonton and Calgary.
Given the "chippyness" of the Atlanta game and what happened the last time these teams got together (see YouTube evidence here and marvel at Dustin Brown's ability to "draw" a call), this one figures to be just as contentious.
Jamie Langenbrunner will play in his 1,000th NHL game and the Stars will honor him before puck drop, see get to your seats on time for that!
Jonathan Quick was the first star of the game last time the Kings visited but he will not play on Monday, said head coach Andy Murray.
L.A.'s frustrating home stand ended with a Jonathan Bernier win and they'll keep rolling with whatever's working because, as their coach says, they need to win some games. They'll go with kind of a "win and you're in" system until their ship gets righted a bit.
From L.A. Kings Insider, Murray said "We’re going to win some games. We’re going to go with a lineup that’s winning. We’ve got to win." That's the kind of attitude the Kings bring into this one here tonight.
Bernier is 5-7 on the season with a .890 save percentage.
They have a 9-11-0 record on the road this year but it's deceiving. They lost five of six on the road in November, skewing that number, but have been much better since and the Stars should expect as much. L.A. has shutout opponents on the road three times this year, including San Jose and Detroit.
Wayne Simmonds is expected to miss their next two games with a lower body injury.