Two power play goals. One shorthanded goal. Four goalies. Six third-period goals, including four in three minutes. An unlikely hero. The Stars’ 6-4 win over the Kings had it all.
“I don’t think we were sharp to the extent where we needed to be,” said Kings center Anze Kopitar. “Obviously too many goals against came off our mistakes. Whether that’s losing faceoffs, turning the puck over, losing coverage, it’s just not very characteristic of us.”
It was an equally uncharacteristic game for the Stars, who won despite giving up both power play goals and the shorthanded marker. The visitors benefited from a healthy serving of “puck luck,” though, which hasn’t run in their favor often this season.
“Definitely, we had some good bounces tonight,” said Dallas sniper Tyler Seguin. “That’s a great ‘character’ win tonight. That’s a big, heavy team over there, and I thought we competed hard with them throughout the whole night. Obviously, some goals we’d like to get back, and some goals they’d probably like to get back.”
The Stars’ regulation win pulled them to within two points of the Kings, who currently occupy the second Wild Card spot.
It’s not often Los Angeles scores four goals and loses. It’s not often Dallas wins when either special teams or goaltending fail, much less when both do. On Monday night, however, a storyline as improbable as any in the Fast & Furious franchise played out on the STAPLES Center ice.
Other than a Jamie Oleksiak shot off the post just under four minutes in, the visiting Stars got off to a slow start in Los Angeles. The Kings, on the other hand, looked as comfortable as you might expect from the home team, and controlled the puck for much of the first 15 minutes.
I mean, pretty much. pic.twitter.com/2HpTXGZslU
— Carolyn Wilke (@Classlicity) January 10, 2017
Late in the period, however, the Stars started carrying the puck into the offensive zone more, rather than dumping it in, and generated more shots as a result. The increased pressure on the Los Angeles net paid off for Dallas with just under a minute remaining in the period, when Jeff Carter coughed up the puck behind his own net. Stars winger Lauri Korpikoski backhanded the loose puck to teammate Brett Ritchie, who poked it into the LA net from just outside the crease.
Shots were 7-7 after the first period.
Dallas came out flying in the middle frame, putting six shots on goal in the first two minutes. Kings goalie Peter Budaj was equal to the task, though, and kept the Stars from adding to their lead.
Around six minutes in, the Kings found their legs…and the puck, as well. Los Angeles dominated play through the middle of the period, ratcheting up the pressure on Dallas netminder Kari Lehtonen.
The Stars’ elusive “puck luck” kicked in at an opportune time. At 9:04, Tyler Seguin’s shot deflected off Kings defenseman Alec Martinez, over Budaj and in, giving Dallas a two-goal lead.
Los Angeles finally found the back of the net at 15:05, when Nick Shore beat Lehtonen high glove side from the right faceoff circle. The goal came with the Kings shorthanded, as a Stars penalty had expired a few seconds earlier, following 90 seconds of four-on-four action.
Shore SHG pic.twitter.com/uDreULP3lS
— GIF Grand Maester (@myregularface) January 10, 2017
Less than three minutes later, the Stars struck back. Radek Faksa won an offensive zone draw to Patrick Sharp, who dished the puck to Oleksiak. “Big Rig” unleashed a shot from the blue line which eluded Budaj and regained Dallas’ two-goal lead.
Dallas led Los Angeles 18-15 in shots after two periods.
The final frame opened with a flurry of goals, four in the first 5:18, to be exact. With Dallas’ Cody Eakin in the box for slashing Drew Doughty, Los Angeles began the feeding frenzy with a Dustin Brown power play goal at 2:16.
Brown’s goal cut the Stars’ lead to one, albeit briefly. 43 seconds later, Devin Shore extended Dallas’ lead yet again, scoring from the doorstep off a nifty pass from Faksa to make it 4-2.
The Kings scored twice over the next 2:19 to tie the game. First, Anze Kopitar beat Lehtonen with a sizzling wrist shot from distance; then, with Jason Spezza in the box for hooking, Doughty blew the roof off the STAPLES Center with a power play blast from above the right circle.
tie game. Lehtonen pulled pic.twitter.com/O7agrEAkxt
— GIF Grand Maester (@myregularface) January 10, 2017
Doughty’s goal ended Lehtonen’s night, as the Stars netminder was replaced by Antti Niemi.
With the home crowd fully engaged and the Kings swarming, victory seemed for a few moments to be slipping out of the Stars’ grasp. At 7:44 of the third, Jiri Hudler brought relief to Dallas fans, his teammates and himself by scoring his first goal as a Star.
Hudler’s first as a Star. 5-4 Dallas. pic.twitter.com/vbC6EE69Kv
— Dylan Nadwodny (@dnadders) January 10, 2017
Shortly after Hudler’s tally, Budaj was replaced by Jeff Zatkoff.
Dallas clamped down defensively, frustrating the Kings and preventing all but one shot on goal for the remainder of the game. With Zatkoff on the bench for an extra attacker, Patrick Sharp scored from center ice to seal the Stars’ win.
DAL – Brett Ritchie (8) assisted by Lauri Korpikoski (9)
DAL – Tyler Seguin (15) assisted by Jason Spezza (18) and Jiri Hudler (3)
LAK – Nick Shore (4) (SHG) assisted by Tanner Pearson (10) and Drew Doughty (15)
DAL – Jamie Oleksiak (5) assisted by Patrick Sharp (3) and Radek Faksa (10)
LAK – Dustin Brown (5) (PPG) assisted by Nic Dowd (11) and Alec Martinez (17)
DAL – Devin Shore (7) assisted by Radek Faksa (11) and Patrick Sharp (4)
LAK – Anze Kopitar (4) assisted by Derek Forbort (10) and Trevor Lewis (8)
LAK – Drew Doughty (7) (PPG) assisted by Anze Kopitar (16) and Jeff Carter (15)
DAL – Jiri Hudler (1) assisted by Tyler Seguin (26)
DAL – Patrick Sharp (2) (ENG) assisted by Radek Faksa (12) and Devin Shore (9)
THW Three Stars
First: Jiri Hudler (1 goal, 1 assist)
Second: Drew Doughty (1 goal, 1 assist)
Third: Radek Faksa (3 assists)
St. Louis Blues at Los Angeles Kings
STAPLES Center – 7:30 p.m. PST on Thursday, January 12
Broadcast channels: FS-W, FS-MW, SN, SN360
2016-17 Season Series: October 29 – St. Louis 1, Los Angeles 0
Dallas Stars at Anaheim Ducks
Honda Center – 9:00 p.m. CST on Tuesday, January 10
Broadcast channels: FS-SW, PRIME
2016-17 Season Series: October 13 – Dallas 4, Anaheim 2
December 13 – Dallas 6, Anaheim 2
Matt blogged about all things hockey at On Goal Analysis/The OGA Blogs from 2008-2014 and has written several travel articles for The Dallas Morning News. He began covering the Dallas Stars and Florida Panthers for The Hockey Writers in August 2015. Matt is also writing a biography of “Tex” Rickard, the Texas cowboy who founded the New York Rangers and the Madison Square Garden Corporation.