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The Los Angeles Kings have not enjoyed a strong start to 2007-08, but they do have an opportunity to make a move in the Pacific Division standings over the next week.
They begin a five-game road trip Monday against the Dallas Stars - the first of four division opponents for Los Angeles over the next 10 days.
The Kings (8-10-1) have 17 points - third-fewest points in the Western Conference - and are in fourth place in the Pacific, only one point ahead of the last-place Phoenix Coyotes and three behind third-place Dallas (8-7-4). They have lost three straight, including a 1-0 loss to the Coyotes on Saturday in which they squandered a 37-save effort from goaltender Jason LaBarbera.
"What are you going to do?" said LaBarbera, who allowed fewer than three goals for the first time in his last five starts. "It's frustrating to lose one of those games."
Los Angeles now begins a tough trip, which includes two games against the division-leading San Jose Sharks and one against the second-place Anaheim Ducks. The Kings also have a rematch against the Coyotes on Wednesday.
After suffering their first shutout defeat of the season, Kings coach Marc Crawford said his team must be more aggressive with the puck.
"There was no offensive genius in our game last night, there wasn't any offensive genius from the coaching staff and there was any from the players," he said. "We all have to focus in on being better."
The Kings will be helped if Michael Cammalleri can revert to his early-season form. The left wing leads the team with 12 goals and 19 points, but has only three points over the last five games. Since scoring seven goals in his first eight games of 2007-08, Cammalleri has found the back of the net just twice in his last nine contests.
Dallas snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. Jussi Jokinen scored four goals - three of them in the second period - to exceed his previous season total.
"It's a big relief. It's been a frustrating month for me and the whole team," said Jokinen, who had only three goals through his first 17 games. "We need some points to get rolling. It was a lot of fun."
Usual starting goaltender Marty Turco, who has given up 11 goals over his last three games, was benched Friday in favor of Mike Smith. Smith needed only 17 saves to improve his record to 3-3-0 with a 2.93 goals-against average.
It's not known who will start in net Monday, but coach Dave Tippett said following Sunday's practice that he believes his team could be turning a corner.
"There was a lot of energy all around and we're going to build on Friday's game," Tippett said. "We're going to continue to work and try and keep that momentum."
This is already the fourth meeting of the season between these clubs. The first three have all been won by the home team - two at Los Angeles including a 6-5 Kings win in overtime on Nov. 10, and a 5-1 Stars victory in Dallas exactly one month earlier.
Dallas has won its last five home games against the Kings.