Any signs of success for the Dallas Stars go a long way toward righting their sinking ship. A win over the defending Stanley Cup champions would go quite a bit further.
The Los Angeles Kings visit Dallas on Saturday night for the last of three meetings this season.
The Stars (7-9-4) have stumbled in the first quarter of 2014-15, most notably through a seven-game losing streak Oct. 25-Nov. 8. Dallas, though, finally took a step in the right direction Thursday with a 3-1 victory over Arizona.
The win stopped a three-game overall skid and seven-game slide at home.
"I don’t know if I can put it into words," coach Lindy Ruff told the Stars’ official website. "I said the other night, I’ve never been through anything like it, especially at home."
The Stars had dropped 10 of 12 prior to the victory.
"It’s a good feeling, obviously," defenseman Trevor Daley said. "This win is a better win followed by another win. The next one is what we’re after, but this one makes you feel good."
Jason Spezza scored his fourth goal, giving him 18 points in his first 20 games in Dallas, with his 14 assists leading the team.
Spezza agreed to a $30 million, four-year contract extension Friday. He has 705 points (255 goals, 450 assists) in 706 career games.
"We’ve underachieved up to this point, but we feel like we’re close as a team with a lot of good pieces in place," Spezza said. "I feel that I fit in with the group. I felt like it was a good fit, something I want to be a part of."
Kari Lehtonen stopped 26 shots Thursday, a positive shift after he was pulled from Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to Carolina when he allowed four goals in the second period.
”You try especially hard after a bad outing like that,” Lehtonen said. ”Maybe keep it more simple and try to play each shift as their own. It wears a little bit more on you, but that’s what you have to do.”
His up-and-down season has carried over into matchups with the Kings (11-5-4). Lehtonen allowed three goals in a home loss in the first meeting Nov. 4, but he recorded his only shutout of the season to win at Los Angeles on Nov. 13.
The Kings have won three straight since that loss, defeating Carolina 3-2 on Thursday.
Tanner Pearson scored his first goal in 12 games and eighth of the season to break a 2-all tie in the second period. Pearson had ignited the offense with nine points through the first eight games, but he recorded one in the next 11.
”When you get into a drought, and I’m not playing my best hockey lately, this game helped out a lot,” Pearson said. ”That kind of stuff comes from working hard, and if you work hard, the bounces are going to start going your way.”
Jonathan Quick will likely be in net for his fourth consecutive start. Quick has a 1.98 goals-against average during the win streak, and his 2.05 GAA ranks near the top of the NHL.
The Stars traded defenseman Brenden Dillon to San Jose on Friday for defenseman Jason Demers and a future draft pick. Dillon ranked third on the Stars in total ice time.