Stars prepare to face reeling Kings
The Dallas Stars are trying to make the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in three years, but the stretch run has been full of obstacles.
The Stars will continue clinging to their postseason hopes when they visit the struggling Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
Dallas hasn't won two in a row since a five-game winning streak from Jan. 19 to Feb. 4, a stretch that bridged All-Star weekend and the team's five-day bye.
The Stars acquired right wing Mats Zuccarello on Saturday from the New York Rangers in hopes he would ramp up their stagnate offense, but he broke his arm in his first game with Dallas on Sunday and is out four weeks.
The Stars had a chance to win two straight and leapfrog the Minnesota Wild for the first wild card from the Western Conference, but lost 4-1 at the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday after allowing three goals in the final 5:08.
Dallas is 29th out of 31 NHL teams in scoring at 2.51 goals a game, just ahead of the Kings at 2.33 goals a game.
"If we're going to win games, we've got to win games 2-1," Stars coach Jim Montgomery told reporters after the loss in Las Vegas.
Dallas left wing Jamie Benn missed his second game of the season on Wednesday because of an upper-body injury, but he's expected to play against the Kings. Benn is third on the Stars with 41 points (21 goals, 20 assists).
The Kings have lost nine in a row for their longest losing streak since 2004. They're two losses shy of their longest losing streak in franchise history, which came over the the final 11 games of the 2003-04 season.
After briefly escaping last place in the Western Conference, the Kings are back in the cellar and well out of playoff contention.
"Everyone is frustrated," Los Angeles forward Trevor Lewis told Fox Sports West following a 6-1 loss at the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. "We've got to go home and regroup and do a little bit of soul searching, and get some pride going and play for each other."
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick has allowed six goals in each of his past two starts. He was pulled following the second period after allowing six goals on 20 shots against Carolina.
"'Quickie' is probably the most competitive guy I've ever met," Lewis said. "We should feed off his energy and we've got to play better in front of him for sure."
Lewis and linemates Kyle Clifford and Austin Wagner have been one of the few bright spots of late. The physical style of Lewis and Clifford has helped create room for Wagner, and the rookie has three points (one goal, two assists) in the past four games.
"I think, for all three of us, it just starts with hard work," Lewis said. "We keep it simple in there. Obviously, 'Wags' has got speed, and me and 'Cliffy' like to get in there and battle, so it's going pretty well."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 27, 2019