Battling for home-ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings have struggled somewhat of late. A matchup with the Dallas Stars should give them a good chance to get back on track.
Los Angeles (39-22-5) is fifth in the Western Conference, two points back of fourth-place Phoenix. The Kings have a game in hand with 16 remaining, but need to get back to playing well in order to beat out the Coyotes for that spot.
Los Angeles went 13-2-1 from Jan. 14-March 2, but has since dropped three of four. The Kings managed to pick up a point in their last game, a 3-2 overtime loss at Chicago on Wednesday.
“Well, you can never really be satisfied with one point, especially with the time of year it is,” Jonathan Quick(notes) told the Kings’ official Web site after making 40 saves versus the Blackhawks. “Points aren’t going to come easy, so you want to get them whenever you can.”
One of Los Angeles’ goals as well as an assist came from Kopitar, who has five goals and four assists during a career high-tying eight-game point streak - his second such run in the last 17 games.
Kopitar will get some help Friday with the return of right wing Justin Williams(notes), who has been activated after a 2 1/2-month absence with a broken leg. Williams had 24 points in 33 games before his injury.
Recent history suggests Los Angeles has a good opportunity to pick up points against Dallas (29-25-12) and pull even with the Coyotes.
Los Angeles went 10-2-1 in the last 13 meetings with the Stars, winning five of six visits to the American Airlines Center and both this season. The Kings improved to 4-0 against Dallas in 2009-10 with a 5-1 road victory last Tuesday.
Kopitar, the team leader with 31 goals and 70 points, has played a major role in that success. He has scored seven times during a five-game goal streak in the series, recording his only career hat trick in a 5-4 overtime win Oct. 22. The center had eight goals and five assists in the last 10 meetings.
Quick has gone 3-2-1 with a 1.66 goals-against average and two shutouts in making six consecutive starts, and posted a 0.65 GAA and a shutout in winning three starts in a row at Dallas. However, he will not be in net Friday, as he has left the team for the birth of his child.
Backup Erik Ersberg(notes) is likely to start, with the Kings calling up Jonathan Bernier(notes) from the AHL. Ersberg, 2-3-1 with a 2.99 GAA on the season, has not played since Feb. 11. He has been very good at Dallas, going 2-0-1 with a 1.96 GAA in three games.
The Stars have lost of four of five and are not in playoff position, but open a crucial six-game homestand Friday.
Turco, though, has gone 1-3-0 with a 4.66 GAA in his last four games, making just 17 saves in the defeat to Los Angeles. He has posted a 4.01 GAA in losing his last two meetings with the Kings.
James Neal(notes), whose career-high 25 goals tie him with Loui Eriksson(notes) for the team lead, has scored once in seven games. The left wing has three goals in four games against the Kings, but all came on the road.