The Dallas Stars weren't happy with the way they started Sunday afternoon, but we're pretty happy with the way they responded when faced with a two-goal deficit, eventually dropping the 3-2 overtime decision to the St. Louis Blues.
"The game could've went the other way when it was 2-0," head coach Lindy Ruff told media, "and you've got to give our guys a lot of credit for battling back and we got a point out of it and we move a point up in the standings."
With another Minnesota loss since, their opportunity for advancement in the standings remains as tantalizing as ever- But another top-notch Western Conference opponent awaits.
The Kings, meanwhile, enter on the second night of a back-to-back, like the Blues did. And Nashville had to travel the day of the game. It's a run of slightly better than average fortune for Dallas, and they've taken advantage thus far.
Los Angeles gave the Blackhawks all they could handle last night in Chicago, but came away empty handed in a 1-0 defeat.
"We knew they were going to be physical. They have a lot of big, strong guys who skate hard," Duncan Keith said last night. "I think it was just a matter of weathering that storm and sticking to what works for us."
The Stars know the physical implications of playing the Kings well after last week. Expect the beatings to continue tonight, as the saying goes, until moral improves.
Insert cheesy New Years Eve metaphor here.
The puck drops on Fox Sports Southwest proper just after 7:00pm CST. Do be careful if you venture out on amateur night.
Lindy Ruff knows the Stars played, perhaps, their best game of the season in Los Angeles last week- And that makes this one all the more dangerous.
"I look at it as their opportunity to answer back," Ruff said Monday. "I think that is going to be sitting in the back of their minds, what happened in LA and that will be added incentive."
Dallas has weathered the Kings to the tune of 1-1 at Staples Center this season, and now get them at home to close the season series before the calendar year runs out. The Stars are 3-0-1 in their last four at home, looking for some consistency ahead of an American Airlines Center-heavy month of January.
The lineup tonight should be the same as it has been.
Shawn Horcoff had a "maintenance day" Monday. Sergei Gonchar skated in a red practice jersey but is not ready. Trevor Daley continues to skate, albeit "in straight lines," as he puts it. So things should shake out relatively similar to this:
From Stars PR: "Tomorrow's contest marks the 40th time the Stars franchise history that the club has played on New Year's Eve. Dallas comes into Tuesday's game having won three of its last four games on Dec. 31, going 3-1-0 since the 08-09 season. Since moving to Dallas, the Stars are 9-4-2 on Dec. 31 and have outscored their opponents 49-32 on the final day of the calendar year. In the fourth New Year's Eve meeting all-time between these two clubs, the Stars enter Tuesday's contest looking for their first ever win over the Kings on Dec. 31 (0-2-1)."
Los Angeles, rather uncharacteristically, is now in the midst of their first true losing streak of the season. Three in a row, all in regulation- Dallas, Nashville, Chicago.
Before that they were 6-1 following regulation losses on the year. Losing just isn't in their makeup, and the Stars should expect a big effort to end the calendar year as they try to end the slide.
The Kings are known as one of the better puck-possession teams in the league, but their game on the road has been suffering of late, getting out-shot 179-125 over the course of their last five away from Staples. They haven't recorded 30 or more shots on the road in three weeks.
From LA Kings Insider.com: "The Kings have lost three consecutive games in regulation for the first time since losing five straight in regulation from December 3 - 13, 2011."
This line from the AP recap may be a portent of things to come once again tonight:
The first period saw the Kings come out physically dominant, in an effort to slow down a fast and fluent Blackhawks club.
The fast Stars will receive the same treatment.
Their lineup, or something close to-
Martin Jones started in net once again for Los Angeles last night and could go back-to-back. If not they'll have to give Ben Scrivens, already a five-game winner, a shot with Jonathan Quick still on the mend.
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