At the start of 2006, the Los Angeles Kings were in second place in the Western Conference. Three months later, they are in danger of missing the playoffs for the third straight season.
After losing all three of their games on their road trip, the Kings return home seeking to revive their playoff hopes when they host the soaring Dallas Stars.
The 10th-place Kings have lost seven of their last nine. They have eight games left—five at Staples Center—to make up their five-point deficit for eighth and final playoff spot.
The Kings were outscored 13-5 on the road trip, capped by their third shutout loss this season with a 4-0 setback Thursday to Edmonton.
“It’s a lack of desperation and a lack of effort,” Kings center Jeremy Roenick, who played with a chip fracture in his right ankle suffered four days before the Oilers game.
The Kings have faltered in the playoff race by going 11-17-3 in their last 31 games, prompting coach Andy Murray’s firing on March 21. Interim coach John Torchetti is 1-3 since replacing Murray.
After opening March with three straight wins, the Kings lost eight of 11 to finish out the month. Over that span, the Kings are 9-for-74 on power-play chances and have failed on all nine chances with the man advantage over the last two games.
The Stars’ four-game win streak ended with Friday’s 5-4 road shootout loss to Anaheim, missing a chance to sweep a home-and-home series from the Ducks.
It was the Stars’ first loss in 12 shootouts this season, but still earned one point and clinched their third straight playoff appearance.
The Stars remain two wins away from clinching their second Pacific Division title in three years. They also seek a seventh division title since the 1996-97 season.
The Stars, who had led 4-2 late in the second period on Friday, allowed Andy McDonald to score with 2:18 left in regulation to force overtime. After Jussi Jokinen missed to fall to 9-for-12 on shootout attempts, Anaheim’s Jonathan Hedstrom scored.
Stars goaltender Marty Turco had not allowed four regulation goals since he gave up six in a Feb. 12 visit to Staples Center.