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Stars, Kings meet looking to end losing streaks

By Dan Pieringer

Stats Writer

Los Angeles (30-33-10) at Dallas (33-32-8) 8:30 p.m. EDT

DALLAS (AP) -- There are still several playoff spots up for

grabs in the wide-open Western Conference. The Dallas Stars and

Los Angeles Kings, however, aren't getting any closer to

claiming them.

The Stars look to snap a four-game losing streak Thursday night

when they host the Pacific Division rival Kings, losers of three

straight.

Dallas (33-32-8) appeared to be in good shape for its sixth

consecutive postseason berth after going 9-3-0 in its first 12

games after the All-Star break. Since that hot streak, however,

the Stars have gone 4-11-1 to fall into 12th place in the West.

They've been outscored 16-7 during their four-game slide, which

continued with a 5-2 home defeat to Vancouver on Tuesday night.

Dallas is one loss shy of matching its season-high skid, set

from Feb. 21-March 1.

"It's disappointing," said forward Brendan Morrison, who scored

his third goal in three games. "We have nine games to go and who

knows what can happen. We have to approach the next game like

it's the last game of the year."

Sixth-year forward Steve Ott, who has never missed the playoffs

in his career spent entirely with Dallas, hopes the Stars can

start playing with more urgency down the stretch.

"You hate to even think of yourselves out of a playoff spot and

right now we're out of a playoff spot," Ott told the team's

official Web site. "The reality is we have to win games and

collect points to make a playoff push. We have nine games left

and we're going to have to start Thursday night and start

getting points. If not, we're going to be dreaming about this

and having a hell of a long summer."

Los Angeles (30-33-10) appears to be on the way to its sixth

consecutive long summer after following a 4-2-1 stretch with

three straight losses. The 13th-place Kings, four points behind

the Stars, have been outscored 10-2 during the losing streak but

haven't given up on contending for a playoff spot.

"We are in the playoff hunt," forward Michal Handzus told the

Kings' official Web site after a 2-0 loss at St. Louis on

Tuesday night. "Obviously, we are farther away than we wanted to

be, but we still want to win some games."

Playoff-bound or not, the Kings consider the stretch run a

significant part of their rebuilding process.

"They're huge and important games for us as a team," captain

Dustin Brown said. "From a growth standpoint, these are playoff

atmosphere games, playoff teams that are fighting for playoff

spots. We want to be in the playoffs this year or any year to

come after. These are games we're going to have to learn how to

play in."

Los Angeles and Dallas have played each other closely this

season, going to two shootouts and one overtime in the first

four meetings. The Kings have gone 3-0-1 in the series, while

the Stars are 1-1-2.

They meet for the final time Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

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