The Dallas Stars survived the St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks Friday and Saturday night. Survived and passed with flying colors, colecting three out of a possible four points and narrowly retaining first place in the division.
But there's no time to exhale. No heavy sigh or relief. The Los Angeles Kings are upon them this evening at American Airlines Center.
Los Angeles has been busy of late, recording points in nine of their last eleven (8-3-1) and allowing just six goals total over their last four games- Stingy as ever.
The Kings' latest victims were the now slightly slumping Chicago Blackhawks, losers of four of thier last five.
Chicago did the Stars a solid in Dallas last week, losing in regulation to the injured Stars with first place in the Central on the line. Last night they did another favor- Show Dallas what not to do when the Kings visit your barn.
Los Angeles scored early and often, grabbing a 2-0 lead before the first commercial break rolled around- Then they tightened the screws defensively as only they are so capable of doing. Chicago tried to mount a comeback but were smothered, and then things turned ugly in the third as the desperation increased, amounting a 5-0 win for the Kings.
Chicago out-attempted Los Angeles 65-46 on the night but were virtually even with them through two periods and a 3-0 lead. Score effects did the rest and the hole got deeper, despite the final disparate numbers.
Those Kings, by the way, are charging hard to take over first place from the Central- Just four points back of the Stars' 91 with two games in hand. A win tonight would put them in the drivers seat and looking like the class of the conference, if they're not already that.
Another team that had a chance to catapult itself to the head of the conference, oh by the way, was the St. Louis Blues last night- And they somehow allowed the hapless Calgary Flames to score on them seven times...
A gift horse's mouth ought not be inspected, however, and the Stars find themselves in a familiar position- Beleaguered against a salty opponent and needing to win to hold on to that which they so vigorously fought for earlier this season.
Of course they'll have to do it without a significant contingent-
The Stars will still be without Jason Demers, John Klingberg, Patrick Sharp, Mattias Janmark and Jordie Benn. Five parts of 18 that led the Stars to their meteoric rise in the fall of 2015, including 50% of the blue line.
The Kings could use Quick a second night in a row like the Blues did Jake Allen over the weekend to great effect- Jhonas Enroth, believe it or not, would be the backup should they choose not to.
Los Angeles has a sterling 5on5 Corsi % at over 56%- The league's best mark. Moret than that, they're save percentage as a unit is not terribly impressive, and their shooting percentage is the second worst in the entire league! And still they're charging and charging.
That's a team that's not only due to continue their run- But also a team that's due to get quite a bit better. Domination could await them. The Stars have to stem that tide, both for this evening and for the division as the Kings are well-positioned to claim home ice throughout.
Their lineup, or something like it-
From Stars PR:
ALL THE KING'S MEN
The Dallas Stars play the third game of a five-game homestand on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Kings. The Stars and Kings meet for the second time this season, with the Kings recording a 3-2 victory in the first game at Staples Center on Jan. 19. The Stars have won three of the last four games against the Kings at American Airlines Center (3-1-0), including a 5-4 victory in the most recent meeting in Dallas on Nov. 22, 2014. Captain Jamie Benn posted three points (2-1=3) with multi-point outings from defenseman John Klingberg (1-1=2), forward Cody Eakin (0-2=2) and forward Tyler Seguin (1-1=2).
SPEZZ IS MORE
Stars center Jason Spezza netted two goals (2-0=2) on Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues and now has goals in six-straight games (7-1=8). With a goal in his last game, the forward established a new career-best goal streak, snapping his previous five-game goal streak record from Nov. 19 - Nov. 29 (6-6=12) as a member of the Ottawa Senators. The six-game point streak is Spezza's longest since he tallied points in seven-straight games (3-8=11) from Feb. 7 - Feb. 19, 2015. Spezza has 10 goals (10-1=11) over his last 10 games and since the start of 2016, has recorded 25 points (15-10=25) over 25 games. The native of Toronto, Ont. currently has 53 points (28-25=53) this season, ranking third on the club in goals (28) and sharing third in points (53). Spezza has skated in 13 career games against Los Angeles and has posted six points (2-4=6).