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|11/19/11 - Post Game - Anze Kopitar - Sat, 19 Nov 2011|
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DALLAS -- Like a gracious holiday host, the Kings essentially served up the game Wednesday night.
With a two-goal lead at the start of the third period, the Kings allowed an early goal, missed a wide-open net, took a terrible late penalty, allowed the game-tying goal then lost in overtime, as the Dallas Stars rallied for a 3-2 victory in front of an announced crowd of 11,779 at American Airlines Center.
One clean faceoff win away from a regulation win, the Kings couldn’t hold on. They got one point, and claimed three out of a possible four points in back-to-back road games, but third point felt a bit empty.
Dallas’ Loui Eriksson scored what was essentially a 6-on-4 goal with 20.3 seconds remaining in regulation, and Steve Ott scored the game-winner 2:56 into overtime.
``We gave them (two points), with a good lead,’’ Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi said. ``Not to say that they didn’t make plays, but it’s something that we haven’t done here in a few years, is cough up leads in the third period. Certainly we might look back on it, later in the season, and say, `Should of, would of, could of,’ but the bottom line is, we had a two-game trip and we got three out of four points. It’s not the worst, but this certainly isn’t the way we wanted to do it.’’
The Kings had the game where they wanted it, with a 2-0 lead after two periods. They scored twice in the first six minutes of the second period, including Kevin Westgarth’s first career NHL goal.
Since April 2009, the Kings had taken a lead into the third period 68 times, and had a 65-0-3 record in those games. This season, the Kings had a 7-0-0 record when leading after the second period. Breakdowns in a couple areas put a mark in the overtime loss category Wednesday.
Dallas’ Jamie Benn scored 2:07 into the third period, and while the Kings still had the lead, the Stars had life, and they pushed the action while the Kings, for the most part, looked tentative and much less like the team that had played a very strong second period. The Stars pounced, and outshot the Kings 13-6.
Still, it looked as though the Kings would be able to hold on, even after Kyle Clifford, with a wide-open net in front of him, hit the post 6:30 into the third period. That would come back to haunt the Kings.
With 2:21 remaining in regulation, Kings winger Ethan Moreau took a slashing penalty.
``That’s all we talked about on the bench, through the third period, was, `Watch your sticks,’’’ Kings coach Terry Murray said. ``You can’t be reaching in. You have to be moving your feet. You can’t put yourself in that kind of a position off a faceoff. You know the referees are watching, and it’s the right call.’’
With four seconds remaining in the Dallas power play, and with the Stars’ net empty, there was a faceoff just outside the Kings’ blue line. The Stars overloaded one side of the ice and Kings center Mike Richards attempted to whack the puck down the ice, but the Stars controlled it and crashed the net.
Three Dallas players went to the net, with only Kings defenseman Matt Greene and goalie Jonathan Quick as opposition, and Benn fed a short pass to Eriksson, whose one-timer beat Quick from close range to tie the game with 21.3 seconds remaining in regulation, just as the power play ended.
``Well, they went forward with it,’’ Murray said. ``They have three guys lined up on the inside, and they go forward. It hits Mitchell right in the midsection and the puck just bounced down. They took a whack at it. it went to their guy on the outside and he makes a play. It was nothing more than that. Both guys, Richards and (Steve) Ott, were trying to do the right thing. Richie was trying to go to the open area. They had no right defenseman, and he’s trying to put it behind their forwards. The bounce went their way.’’
It did in overtime as well. Kings defenseman Jack Johnson leveled Dallas’ Mike Ribeiro with an open-ice hit, but the puck went into the Kings’ zone with Anze Kopitar and two rookies, Andrei Loktionov and Slava Voynov, giving chase. Ott took a pass from Stephane Robidas and put a wrist shot past Quick, who finished with 35 saves.
``Going into the start of the third, you’ve got a 2-0 lead,’’ Murray said. ``They caught us on a line change, with Benn coming from behind with speed to make a play. Then the other two goals happened.’’
If the Kings had held on in regulation, Westgarth’s unlikely goal would have held up as the game-winner.
Both teams had good energy but some sloppy passing in a scoreless period, in which the Stars outshot the Kings 9-8. The best scoring chance of the period came three minutes in, when Richards had a shorthanded breakaway, but Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen made the stop.
The Kings broke the scoreless tie 4:53 into the second period. Dustin Brown carried the puck into the Dallas zone with Loktionov on the far side, but Brown found Richards trailing the play. Richards went to the net, and Lehtonen made the initial stop on Richards' wrist shot but the puck trickled across the line to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.
Richards has 10 goals for the season and has recorded a goal in five consecutive games.
Just 36 seconds after Richards’ goal, the Kings took a 2-0 lead on Westgarth's goal. Westgarth got the puck in the left circle and beat Lehtonen with a high shot to the far corner, 5:29 into the second period. Ethan Moreau got an assist as Westgarth scored for the first time in 73 NHL games.
Dallas got on the scoreboard, and halved the Kings' lead, 2:07 into the third period. Eric Nystrom did the hard work, as he battled along the boards with Voynov in the Kings' zone, then pushed the puck to Benn in front. Benn carried the puck to the left, and Quick came out and went down to cut down the angle, but Benn scored with a high shot to cut the Kings' lead to 2-1. Radek Dvorak also got an assist.
Lehtonen faced only six third-period shots and finished with 22 saves.
``You have to play the game that got you there,’’ Scuderi said. ``I don’t think we had our strongest first period, but in the second period we played much better. To me, you have to keep your foot on the gas pedal. To me, it’s pretty simple. You don’t take chances that you don’t need to take, and you play the same way but you don’t take unnecessary chances. If you do that, you give yourself a good chance to maybe get an insurance goal. We didn’t get the insurance goal, and eventually we coughed up the lead, and we’ll have to bounce back on Saturday.’’