Sunday, March 31, 2013
Los Angeles Kings 3, Dallas Stars 2
Stars thoroughly dominated, somehow fail to win.
DALLAS The Dallas Stars played like a team expecting to get traded Sunday afternoon at the American Airlines Center, losing 3-2 to the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in a game that wasn't remotely as close as the score suggests. The loss dropped Dallas to 16-15-3, two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. LA improved to 20-12-3.
Dallas immediately spotted their division rivals a free goal just 25 seconds into the game when Jeff Carter's backhand shot somehow got past Dallas netminder Kari Lehtonen and in for his 20th of the season and an early 1-0 lead.
The scoring dried up after that, despite the Kings dominating in all three zones. The Stars played one of their worst games in recent franchise history over the next 30 minutes, getting outshot 18-4 at one point and failing to register a single shot on net in the second period until there were fewer than seven minutes remaining. However, Lehtonen stood tall against the onslaught with zero support from his teammates, stopping all 18 shots he faced in the middle frame and 30 of the 31 in the first two periods.
Dallas finally got an small spark of offense at 13:12 of the second on their first shot in nearly 15 minutes of game clock. Alex Goligoski made a beautiful cross-ice backhand pass to a streaking Jamie Benn, who blew past a changing Kings team to score his 8th goal of the season and make it 1-1.
Outshot 31-8 through two but still technically alive, the Stars' incredible run of luck finally ran out early in the third. LA scored two quick goals just a minute apart, starting with Brad Richardson's first goal in nearly a calendar year at 5:40 and followed by Justin Williams' seventh 69 seconds later to make it 3-1.
The two-goal deficit seemed to wake up the Stars, who finally started to try and press into the Kings zone for the first time all game. Loui Eriksson drew a hooking minor on Mike Richards midway through the final frame, and just as the penalty expired Goligoski dished a pass to Ray Whitney, whose shot from the top of the circle eluded Kings backup goalie Jonathan Bernier for his seventh of the season and a 3-2 game. Dallas was unable to get the equalizer, however, although they had several close chances, including one near-miss at the net from Goligoski.
Lehtonen had a great day until the Kings finally wore him down, stopping 37 of the 40 shots he faced in the loss. Bernier was rarely tested until the third, making 13 saves on just 15 shots.
Dallas' next three games are against the Anaheim Ducks, with the first one tomorrow night at the AAC.