The Dallas Stars will roll out the welcome mat at home for the first time this season, playing host to the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday after a break-even road trip to start the season.
The success during their 2-2-0 travels was hard-earned. The Stars forged an overtime victory in the season opener Oct. 14 at the New York Rangers and completed the trip with a 2-1 shootout victory at Pittsburgh on Tuesday for their four points in the early going.
Last season for the Stars, finishing off opponents like that at home proved difficult, essentially costing them a trip to the playoffs with a fifth-place finish in the Central Division, four points away from a visit to the postseason.
Dallas was 13-7-8 at home, tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for most single-point overtime/shootout losses in the NHL. On the flip side, the Stars had the lowest number of home regulation losses of any NHL team that did not make the playoffs.
The Stars prefer to look at their recent four points in a pair of extra-time road games as a good sign moving into the home portion of the schedule.
“This is how tough the league is,” Stars head coach Rick Bowness said. “We could’ve gotten points in all four (road) games and we could’ve gone 0-4. That’s how tough the league is. We’ll take the .500.”
While Michael Raffl leads Dallas with two goals, Radek Faksa leads in points with four. Raffl scored a first-period goal against the Penguins on Tuesday, with Faksa assisting on the score.
The 1-2-0 Kings had a promising start with an impressive 6-2 victory in the season opener at home against the Vegas Golden Knights, before a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild at home. Their first road game came Tuesday with a 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators.
That was the start of a four-game swing that will conclude with a pair of games at St. Louis on Saturday and Monday to face a Blues team that has won each of their first three games. Getting some momentum at Dallas on Friday would be ideal.
Los Angeles will no doubt feel comfortable leaning on center Anze Kopitar, who has five goals and three assists in three games and was tied for the NHL lead in points heading into play Thursday. Kopitar’s three goals and five points powered the victory over Vegas.
Kings head coach Todd McLellan was using the two-day break between games this week to get his team up to speed.
“We are three regular-season, seven exhibition games (into the season) after a month and a half and there are some bumps and bruises,” McLellan said. “Had we played (Thursday) they would have all been on the ice, but we have to manage that and keep them healthy.”
The Kings did not face the Stars last season and lost 2-1 to them at home on Jan 8, 2020. The last time Los Angeles visited Dallas was Jan. 17, 2019, when they earned a 2-1 victory.