Red-hot Kings battle Stars in LA
It's safe to say that the Los Angeles Kings have found the confidence that helped make them Stanley Cup champions last season.
The streaking club looks to continue its surge up the Western Conference standings with a third straight victory on Thursday night in a home contest with the rival Dallas Stars.
The Kings began defense of their championship by losing seven of their first 10 games, but have won nine of the past 11 to jump into a tie for fourth in the West with 26 points. They do still trail the Anaheim Ducks by nine points for first place in the Pacific Division, but have certainly looked like contenders over the past month.
Los Angeles had a five-game winning streak snapped last Saturday and has bounced back with wins over Nashville and St. Louis to begin a five-game homestand and span of playing 10 of 12 at home. That could also help the Kings make a run as they are 7-1-1 as the hosting club this season.
They earned their sixth straight home win on Tuesday night, rallying from a three-goal deficit in the second period to down the Blues 6-4.
Slava Voynov got the comeback started with a second-period goal, while Mike Richards, Jake Muzzin, Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar all lit the lamp in the final frame. Carter, one day after logging his fifth career hat trick, was credited with his league-leading sixth game-winning goal and he has nine goals in his past eight games.
"We got away with one tonight," Kopitar said. "(We) didn't have the best start, not the best second period, but when you get four goals in the third period that helps a lot and we came out firing. We said that after the second that we're going to throw everything at them and we did and it worked out."
Muzzin had two goals and an assist for a career-high three points and Justin Williams matched a personal best with three assists.
Jonathan Bernier was pulled early in the second period after allowing three goals on eight shots while Jonathan Quick stopped 5-of-6 shots to get the win in relief.
The Stars come into the game last in the Pacific Division with 24 points, but that does have them tied for eighth overall in the West. They are looking to get on a roll after their own 4-1 win over the Blues on Sunday.
Derek Roy had a goal and two assists, while Loui Eriksson donated a goal and helper. Jaromir Jagr scored and Kari Lehtonen made 25 saves for the Stars, who had lost four of six coming in.
"It wasn't a pretty hockey game to watch, but at the end of the day if you play enough of those the right way you're going to get results," said Dallas head coach Glen Gulutzan. "We got them tonight."
Erik Cole, playing in his second game since being acquired from the Montreal Canadiens, potted a goal as well.
Gulutzan's club should have the services of Philip Larsen tonight after the defenseman missed the past four games with an upper body injury.
The Stars and Kings are meeting for the first time since splitting six matchups in 2011-12.