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Preview: Dallas Stars @ Los Angeles Kings (9:30 PM CST)

The Stars have a four point game on the line as they take on the team sitting in the second wild card spot today.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Dallas Stars Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

When you look at the standings at nearly half way through the season, the Stars find themselves looking up at the Los Angeles Kings, who sit four points ahead of them for the second wild card spot with the same number of games played to date.

Quite a turnaround from last year when the team was comfortably in a playoff spot for the entirety of the season.

While the Stars are riding a three game losing streak dating back to New Year’s Eve, they still find themselves with a gap that is more than manageable for a playoff spot. Six points behind Calgary for the first Wild Card spot (with two games in hand), four points behind the Kings, seven points behind St. Louis for third in the Central division.

Now these games versus those teams they’re trailing become bigger, and present an opportunity to take points away that those teams can never earn back — thus, the “four point game” moniker (+2 points for you and 2 points the other team can’t earn).

The Kings are playing .500 hockey lately, much like Dallas has been. They’re 4-4-2 in their last 10 games, they aren’t on a winning or losing streak (they won their last game, an overtime effort versus the Minnesota Wild).

Los Angeles makes hay at home, however. They’re currently 12-5-1 at Staples Center, and Dallas brings their terrible 5-10-4 road record to try to steal points from the Kings.

Hopefully the game will be less disastrous for the Stars than the start of their trip out to Hollywood...

Los Angeles Kings Lines and Defensive Pairings

Reports out of California have Kings lines and pairings to be something along these lines:

Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Trevor Lewis
Tanner Pearson - Jeff Carter - Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford - Nic Dowd - Devin Setoguchi
Dwight King - Nick Shore - Jordan Nolan

Derek Forbort - Drew Doughty
Jake Muzzin - Alec Martinez
Brayden McNabb - Matt Greene

Likely scratches are Kevin Grabel, Tom Gilbert, Andy Andreoff.

Dallas Stars Lines and Defensive Pairings

Captain Jamie Benn remains out, and was also ruled out late last week for tomorrow night’s contest versus the Anaheim Ducks with his foot injury. Lines and pairings for Dallas shouldn’t change much from their matchup versus the Blues:

Jiri Hudler - Jason Spezza - Tyler Seguin
Antoine Roussel - Cody Eakin - Patrick Eaves
Devin Shore - Radek Faksa - Patrick Sharp
Lauri Korpikoski - Adam Cracknell - Brett Ritchie

Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Jamie Oleksiak
Johnny Oduya - Jordie Benn

Likely scratches are Curtis McKenzie and Stephen Johns, and expect that those guys would likely draw in for tomorrow night’s contest to give some fresh legs on the second night of the back-to-back.