Kings Vs. Stars: A Battle For Playoff Positioning At Staples Center

(Sports Network) - The Dallas Stars will aim for their fifth victory in six games when they visit the Los Angeles Kings tonight for a key Western Conference battle at the Staples Center. The Stars have gained a point in five straight games and the 4-0-1 stretch comes directly on the heels of a five-game losing streak. Los Angeles, meanwhile, has lost two of three after a three-game winning streak.

Both Dallas and LA are in the thick of the crowded Western Conference playoff race. The Stars are holding onto the seventh seed with 77 points, while the Kings are just one back in eighth. Anaheim, Minnesota and Nashville are lurking with 75 points each. These Pacific Division rivals have met three times this season and the Kings have won two of those encounters. Overall, LA has taken seven of nine from the Stars and Dallas has dropped three of its last four tilts in the City of Angels. The Stars are coming off a victory over the red-hot Sharks, as Dallas halted San Jose's eight-game winning streak with Saturday's 3-2 triumph in northern California. Jason Williams scored the game-winner late in the third period to lift Dallas to the victory over the Pacific-leading Sharks.

Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson also lit the lamp for the Stars, while Kari Lehtonen upped his record to 27-18-7 with a 29-save effort. "I knew they were winning a lot, so you saw an extra spark," said Lehtonen. The Stars played Saturday's game without forward Jamie Langenbrunner, who is questionable for tonight's tilt with an upper-body injury. Dallas defenseman Nicklas Grossman is also questionable after sitting out the last nine games with a hip problem.

Dallas is 17-14-2 as the guest and will begin a seven-game homestand when it hosts Calgary on Wednesday. The Kings, meanwhile, are completing a six-game homestand tonight before beginning a four-game swing Wednesday night in Detroit. LA is 3-2-0 on the current homestand and boast a 20-11-1 record at the Staples Center this season.

The Kings lost Saturday afternoon against the visiting Canucks, as Daniel Sedin scored the game-winner for Vancouver in the 3-1 decision at Staples Center. Sedin snapped a 1-1 tie with 8:24 left in the third period and Alexandre Burrows added an empty-netter to seal the win.

Dustin Penner scored for the Kings, giving the former Edmonton Oiler his first goal since LA acquired him at trade deadline. Jonathan Quick stopped 33-of-35 shots in the loss.

Quick and Lehtonen are expected to get the starts in net tonight for LA and the Stars, respectively.

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