Mar 7, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) and Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) in front of the goal in the first period at the Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Stars vs. Los Angeles Kings: The Final Week of the Regular Season Begins

The Stars hit the mid-point of the final road series of the season tonight, facing off against the Los Angeles Kings in the Staples Center. With a loss in St. Louis Friday, a win tonight is a must if Dallas is hoping to sit in the much-coveted eighth place by next week.

On the positive side for Dallas, Friday’s loss was a difference of only a point, a huge accomplishment for this team that continuously struggles in back-to-back games. Dallas has also held a strong advantage over the Kings, winning three of the four games the teams have played this season, including the most recent 5-1 victory in Dallas earlier this month. Dallas’ only loss to L.A. came late last month when the Kings visited the American Airlines Center for the first time in the season. The Kings held only one point over the Stars, 3-2, to take home the win.

On the negative side for Dallas are a slew of other factors, including the fact that the Kings, though already situated in the playoffs, are still battling for both first and place in the Pacific Division. Though five points behind, the Kings could give the leading Anaheim Ducks a run for their money with a win tonight and four more games on the regular season schedule. The San Jose Sharks are tied with the Kings at 55 points for the season, leaving both teams to fight for second place in the division and fourth place in the Western Conference.

Ray Whitney has been responsible for goals in his three games against the Kings this season, and will be looking to get back on track points-wise after Friday’s game against the Blues when he didn’t register a single point. Until Friday, Whitney had recorded at least a point in six straight games. Kari Lehtonen will likely be back in net for the Stars tonight, pushing to hold on to his goals allowed average of 1.86 against the Kings this season.

Both the Stars and the Kings have averaged 2.77 goals a game, and are evenly matched on the penalty kill at 81.6 percent for the Stars and 82.9 percent for the Kings. The Kings do have a significant leg-up on the Stars on the power play at 20.6 percent versus Dallas’ 17.1, so avoiding needless penalties will be key to success for the Stars tonight.

The puck drops tonight at 8 p.m. central time at the Staples Center, and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Southwest.

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Tags: Blackout Dallas Dallas Stars Hockey Kari Lehtonen Los Angeles Kings Ray Whitney

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