National Hockey League
Stars-Kings Preview
National Hockey League

Stars-Kings Preview

Updated Mar. 5, 2020 12:28 a.m. ET

Division titles, home-ice advantage and the top seed in the Western Conference - they're all still for the taking.

The Dallas Stars have the inside track to all three, but the Los Angeles Kings are also in the hunt for them heading into Saturday's showdown at Staples Center.

With 103 points, the Stars (47-22-9) lead St. Louis by two points for the Central Division title - and by extension the Western Conference. Claiming the Central is important since the runner-up will have a difficult first-round challenge against reigning Stanley Cup champion Chicago.

The Kings, meanwhile, are engaged in a back-and-forth with Anaheim for the Pacific Division lead. Los Angeles (46-26-5) remained one point ahead of Anaheim after the Ducks lost 3-2 to Vancouver on Friday night.


''We want to finish first. We want home ice,'' Jeff Carter said after Los Angeles blanked Calgary 3-0 on Thursday night. ''We're fortunate enough to be in the position we are and got five games to get where we need to be.''

Dallas has done almost all it can do of late to fend off St. Louis and is seeking its fourth straight win and seventh in eight games after disposing of Arizona 4-1 on Thursday night. Jamie Benn became the 10th player in franchise history to score 40 goals in a season and Patrick Sharp became the fourth Stars player to reach 20 this season, sealing the victory with an empty-netter.

''It means I've got good line mates and good teammates,'' said Benn, who has a three-game goal-scoring streak. ''They're setting me up 40 times, I guess."

Defensively, the Stars have dominated on the penalty kill, scoring more short-handed goals (3) than power-play goals conceded (2) in 37 chances over the last 12 games.

While the Kings are six points behind the Stars for the top spot in the West, they have every reason to be confident facing them as they go for the season sweep. In the most recent contest, Los Angeles stormed to a 5-2 victory at Dallas on March 15, chasing Kari Lehtonen early in the second period after beating him four times on 11 shots.

"We know it's going to be a heavy game. There will be a lot of battles on the walls," coach Lindy Ruff told the Stars' official website after practice Friday morning. "I felt in the last game they created some pressure; we gave them a few goals. I feel it's going to be a 3-2 game if we play well."

Jonathan Quick, who made 27 saves in a 3-2 win over the Stars on Jan. 19 and had the night off in last month's win, should get the nod after turning aside 21 shots versus the Flames. Quick has been dominant at home of late, going 9-1-1 with a 1.89 goals-against average in his last 11 starts at Staple Center.

He's also seeking his fifth win in his last six starts versus Dallas and enters this game with a 17-7-2 record and 2.42 GAA lifetime against the Stars.

"At the end of the day, winning matters," coach Daryl Sutter said of his goaltender to the team's official website. "There's a lot of goalies that when you give up two or three goals that their game changes not for the better, where Jonathan is about winning and having to make saves and that sort of things.

"You can win, but you don't win consistently without that guy over a long period of time."


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