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Los Angeles Kings coach Terry Murray made the surprising decision to sit the league's hottest goalie in their last game, but it's very likely Jonathan Quick will be back in net to face a team he's dominated.
Quick, who shut out the Dallas Stars in his most recent game, could get another look at them Thursday night when the teams meet at American Airlines Center.
Quick posted his club-record third consecutive shutout with a 1-0 win over Dallas (7-2-0) on Saturday, but with Los Angeles (5-2-1) beginning a three-game, four-night road trip, Murray chose to sit Quick in favor of Jonathan Bernier on Tuesday.
Bernier lost for the second time in as many starts this season, stopping 20 shots in a 3-0 loss to New Jersey.
"You can dissect this whole thing any way you want, (but) Bernier was fine," Murray said. "He made some big stops in the first period after we gave up some quality chances, so he played well. But this was not about the goaltending. This is all about managing the puck, and turnovers, and giveaways that ended up being very easy goals against."
Although Murray hasn't said who will start Thursday, it seems likely that Quick will face the Stars again after a 28-save performance in Saturday's shutout. He is 11-3-0 with a 1.91 goals-against average against Dallas, winning his last five starts against them.
Quick is the first goalie with three straight shutouts since Columbus' Steve Mason in December 2008. Brian Boucher had four consecutive shutouts for Phoenix in 2003-04.
The offense isn't giving either Los Angeles goaltender much room for error. The Kings have scored three goals in the last three games and have created just one power-play opportunity in each of the last two, failing to convert on either.
Anze Kopitar, who had nine points in the first five games, including four goals, has one assist in the last three games and was a minus-1 against the Devils. Simon Gagne has also cooled off after a hot start, going pointless in his last three games.
"With our system, we're going to be in some tight one-goal games," captain Dustin Brown said. "We've got to find a way to generate more pucks to the net and simplify our game a little bit."
Thursday could be a matchup of two of the league's hottest goaltenders. Kari Lehtonen had 33 saves in a 3-2 shootout victory over Phoenix on Tuesday to improve to 7-0-0 with a 1.54 goals-against average this season.
However, it was Andrew Raycroft who started against the Kings over the weekend, recording 23 saves. Lehtonen is 4-4-0 with a 2.47 GAA against Los Angeles.
The Stars bounced back from that loss with Tuesday's win. Adam Burish scored the tying goal with 61 seconds left in regulation and Trevor Daley converted on the Stars' eighth shootout attempt.
Dallas, which opens a three-game homestand Thursday trying to improve on a 4-0 home record, has given up more than two goals in only one game this season.
"Going into it, we said we want to put back-to-back games together and I think for the most part, we put three pretty good games together," Burish said of the four-game road trip. "To get points the way we did, it's good. It's a confident group right now."
However, the Stars are 1-4-2 in their last seven home games against the Kings.