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|03/07/11 - Post Game - Coach Crawford - Tue, 08 Mar 2011|
|03/07/11 - Post Game - Morrow - Tue, 08 Mar 2011|
|03/07/11 - Post Game - Benn - Tue, 08 Mar 2011|
|03/07/11 - Post Game - Coach Murray - Tue, 08 Mar 2011|
|03/07/11 - Post Game - Kopitar - Tue, 08 Mar 2011|
|03/07/11 - Post Game - Williams - Tue, 08 Mar 2011|
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This certainly isn't how the Kings wanted to break from precedent.
Given a golden opportunity to leapfrog Dallas and jump two spots in the Western Conference standings, the Kings instead had a surprising third-period breakdown and lost 4-3 to the Stars in overtime Monday before a sellout of 18,118 at STAPLES Center.
``This time of year you want to get two points,'' Kings center Anze Kopitar said. ``Especially to just hand them out like that, like we did tonight, it’s not the way to go obviously, especially with everything being clogged up from fifth to the 10th spot. You just can’t afford to lose those types of games.”
In a ridiculously tight conference race, the Kings were 20 solid minutes away from moving into sixth place in the conference. All they needed to do was hold a third-period lead, something they had done successfully 19 times in 19 opportunities this season.
Not once this season had the Kings taken a lead into the third period and come away with less than two points. But the Stars scored early in the period then, after Kyle Clifford gave the Kings a 3-2 lead, Dallas' Jamie Benn tied the game with a backbreaking shorthanded goal, the exclamation point on another poor Kings power-play effort.
Brenden Morrow scored 38 seconds into overtime as the Kings remained in eighth place, just two points ahead of three teams: Minnesota, Anaheim and Nashville.
``We’re a team that, if we’re going to make the playoffs, we’re going to need to lock games like these down,'' said Justin Williams, who scored one of the Kings' goals. ``We missed an opportunity to jump ahead of these guys in the standings. On the other side, we’re going to make sure that that point isn’t going to stop us from making the playoffs. We have a big road trip coming up so we’re going to have to have a big push.''
Once again, the lack of power-play success (0-for-4) doomed the Kings, with the Stars' shorthanded goal serving as the lowlight but perhaps not the most damning failure.
Late in the first period, the Kings led 1-0 and were playing well when Dallas' Steve Ott made the unwise decision to spear Clifford during a post-whistle scrum. Ott got a five-minute major and a game-misconduct, meaning that after Clifford's minor roughing penalty expired, the Kings would be on the power play for three minutes.
A power-play goal, and a two-goal lead, might have taken the wind out of the Stars' sails. Instead, the Kings could not manage a shot on goal in their three-minute power play.
There would be no two-goal lead and, after another failed power play, three minutes into the second period, the Kings lost the lead altogether when Mike Ribeiro scored at the 6:47 mark to make it a 1-1 game.
The game would have plenty of twists and turns from there, with the Kings holding leads of 2-1 and 3-2, but the power-play drought stung the Kings the most.
``They were plus-one on our power play, at a crucial time in the game,'' Williams said. ``We need to refocus, re-adjust, especially on the power play, and I think maybe just relax a little bit. We know we’re struggling on the power play, but we need to relax out there, I think, a little bit with the man advantage and, in turn, make plays, because we have a lot of guys who are really, really good with the puck and we need to execute that.
``It’s the guys out there that ultimately are going to do it. There are 10 guys with some interchangeable parts, there are two units and we’re all in this together. Nobody is pointing fingers and nobody is laying blame. We just collectively need to be better. We need to get consistent with it because, come playoff time, special teams are an extremely important part of the game.''
Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier made only 18 saves but probably deserved a better fate, as Benn's breakaway goal was on a breakaway and the other Dallas goals were from close range, at least a couple coming after defensive-zone breakdowns.
``Bernier played good,'' Kings coach Terry Murray said. ``He made some big stops in traffic. They've got some skilled players who made things happen by the net. I thought his game was good. The goals that were scored were other parts of the game. He had no chance on some of them. He had a couple other challenging plays he made big stops on, so he had a good game.''
After each team failed to score on an early power play, the Kings took a 1-0 lead 8:39 into the first period. After some cycling, Williams pushed the puck up to Kopitar, who then made a short pass to Willie Mitchell. Mitchell wound up for a slap shot from the left point and beat Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen with a long-range shot, as Lehtonen was being screened by teammate Stephane Robidas. Kopitar and Williams recorded assists.
The Kings spent almost all of the first five minutes of the second period on the power play but didn't score, then the Stars tied the game 6:47 into the second period. On a rush into the Kings' zone, Adam Burish found Ribeiro unmarked going to the net, and Ribeiro beat Bernier with a wrist shot to make it a 1-1 game.
The Kings got the lead back just 35 seconds after Ribeiro's goal. Williams took a wrist shot from the blue line, and Lehtonen made the stop but couldn't control the puck. As it sat in the crease, Williams got two whacks at the rebound and scored to give the Kings a 2-1 lead at the 7:22 mark. Kopitar got an assist, his second of the game, as did Dustin Penner.
Dallas came out strong to start the third period, and got rewarded with a goal at the 1:57 mark, but then the Kings took the lead back 44 seconds later.
First, Trevor Daley found some space in the high slot, took a pass from Ribeiro, went to the middle of the left circle and beat Bernier with a high wrist shot to tie the game 2-2.
Clifford gave the Kings the lead again at the 2:41 mark. Clifford took a pass from Trevor Lewis at the Dallas blue line, skated down the left side and beat Lehtonen with a wrist shot to the far corner to give the Kings a 3-2 lead.
A Dallas shorthanded goal made it a 3-3 game, 5:20 into the third period. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty held the puck at the Dallas blue line and attempted a pass, but Benn stepped in front of it, went the length of the ice and beat Bernier with a close-range backhand shot.
Morrow scored the game-winning goal 38 seconds into overtime. Ribeiro held the puck in the Kings' zone, then cut past Jack Johnson to the middle of the ice. Ribeiro lost control of the puck but Morrow picked it up and immediately beat Bernier from close range.
``The one-goal lead, going into the third period, you're in a pretty good position against a division team,'' Murray said. ``You should be able to shut that game down. We don't manage the puck. We just make mistakes and turn the puck over. That’s something we have to clean up right away. We've got to get back on the right side of the game and do the right things for the 60 minutes. That's where we talk about, `Every play is important.' Well, it was certainly reinforced with what went on tonight.''