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Stars Look To Take Down Nemesis Kings

(Sports Network) - The Dallas Stars are aiming to wrap a three-game homestand perfect, but that may prove difficult tonight against a Los Angeles Kings club that just finished up a disastrous residency of its own.

The first-place Stars try to avoid an eighth loss in nine games versus the Kings in this Pacific Division battle at American Airlines Center.

Dallas had lost five straight at home before defeating Edmonton and Atlanta in consecutive games last week. After a tough one-goal victory over the Oilers last Tuesday, the rested Stars skated past the Thrashers, 6-1, on Saturday for their third straight victory overall.

Goaltender Kari Lehtonen made 29 saves in facing his former team for the first time. Lehtonen was selected second overall by Atlanta in the 2002 draft before being traded to Dallas last year.

"It was the most exciting game for me this year, lots of emotions," said Lehtonen. "I played my own game and the guys came up big there in the third period and the last parts of the second. It was a good win."

Dallas improved to 14-6-4 at home this year and 5-0-1 in its last six overall thanks to two goals by both Trevor Daley and James Neal. Dallas went 3-for-5 on the power play and killed off three Atlanta man advantages.

"To get power-play goals is huge," Daley said. "Special teams is a big part of our game today. To get that going and get a win is fun."

Adam Burish ended a 10-game goal drought and Mike Ribeiro added two assists to stretch his point streak to a career high-tying eight straight games (3 goals, 7 assists). Loui Eriksson, meanwhile, is tied with Nashville's Shea Weber for the longest active point streak in the NHL at nine consecutive games. Eriksson has a goal and 10 assists over his run.

The Stars have 59 points on the season, four more than the second-place Coyotes in the division. Dallas is also three back of Detroit for second overall in the Western Conference.

The Kings are 10 points back of the Stars and three behind the eighth-place Avalanche in the West. They hope to make up some ground tonight with a third victory in as many meetings with Dallas this year.

Los Angeles has outscored Dallas, 8-3, in the first two meetings this year -- one at home and one on the road -- and has won five straight at American Airlines Center.

The Kings play two straight and 13 of their next 16 on the road following a horrid 2-6-0 homestand. They won the finale of the residency on Saturday, besting the Oilers, 5-2.

Jarret Stoll had two goals and both Drew Doughty and Marco Sturm scored and finished with an assist. Doughty also sparked a post-whistle scrum with a hit on Edmonton's Taylor Hall, with forward Wayne Simmonds suffering a lower-body injury during the melee. He is out for this game and LA head coach Terry Murray wasn't happy with how the injury occurred.

"These things are ridiculous," Murray told the Kings' website on Sunday. "This whole scrum thing is so wrong. That's a great hit by Doughty. This happens around the league now. This is prevalent everywhere. To me, this is an issue that somebody needs to address.

"You've got Simmonds getting jumped from behind and pulled backwards, and we've now lost a player, for certainly these two games. I've seen this around the league. It's a good hockey hit, and now everybody responds to a hockey hit. We're going to end up taking hits right out of the game, the way things are going right now."

Jonathan Bernier made 24 saves and will get his second straight start tonight. The backup is just 5-7-0 with a 3.16 goals-against average in 13 games this year, but did stop 29-of-30 shots faced in beating Dallas the only other time he faced them.

Lehtonen has been in net for both losses this year to the Kings, falling to 2-2-0 with a 2.70 GAA versus them lifetime.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.