DALLAS -- Did Terry Murray learn the Russian words for ``shot mentality’’?
``No, he learned the English version. It’s easier that way,’’ Murray said with a laugh, referring to defenseman Slava Voynov.
Voynov is still learning English, but he certainly understands the universal language of hockey. When the puck is coming to you, you have space and there’s traffic in front of the net, shoot it. It’s the ``shot mentality’’ that Murray tries to drill into his players. You never know what might happen.
In Voynov’s case, something very good happened. Voynov’s one-time shot from the top of the right circle snuck past Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen for the go-ahead goal in the Kings’ 5-3 victory over the Stars on Thursday night before an announced crowd of 8,443 at American Airlines Center.
Voynov’s goal, with 6:52 remaining in regulation, gave the Kings a 4-3 lead -- Dustin Brown added an empty-net goal in the final minute -- and capped a memorable three-point night for Voynov.
``He’s got a nice skill that you don’t coach, and that’s the offensive part of the game,’’ Murray said. ``He’s got incredible composure.’’
Called up for his NHL debut after Drew Doughty got hurt on Oct. 15, Voynov had already done an admirable job as a fill-in, considering that he is only 21 years old and had never before played an NHL game.
Doughty is on the verge of returning -- likely on Saturday against Phoenix -- meaning that Voynov’s next flight might be headed to New Hampshire, for a reunion with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs.
So if Thursday’s game was Voynov’s NHL swan song -- for now -- he certainly made it count. Voynov assisted on Justin Williams’ game-tying goal in the second period, scored his first NHL goal, on the power play, to give the Kings a 3-1 lead in the second period, then scored the huge third-period goal.
``I think he has played pretty well defensively, for a guy who is really young,’’ said Willie Mitchell, Voynov’s veteran defensive partner, ``and it’s nice to see him get rewarded with some offensive stuff, because I know that’s a big part of his game.
``Obviously with his performance here, he’s making it really tough on the coaching staff and the management, that’s for sure. That’s what you’ve got to do.’’
The Kings, ahead 3-1 after 40 minutes, coughed up the lead when Dallas scored twice in the first eight minutes of the third period. The Stars had the momentum, but when the puck slid out to Voynov at the top of the circle, he fired. Lehtonen, screened by Trevor Lewis, likely never saw the shot that beat him.
So, the Kings came away happy despite an inconsistent effort, one in which they were arguably outplayed for the majority of the game. The Kings trailed 1-0 after the first period, were dynamic in the second period then had to rally again after losing their two-goal third-period lead.
``I think it shows the character of this team,’’ Kings center and alternate captain Anze Kopitar said. ``We’ve blown a few leads before, but this was a step in the right direction. They did tie it up, but we pressed on the gas pedal again and we got the job done.’’
Scott Parse, in the lineup in place of Kevin Westgarth, scored a second-period goal, Mike Richards had three assists and Brown had two assists to go with his empty-net goal. The Stars had allowed more than two goals in a game just once this season, and had allowed more than two goals only once in nine games.
Once again, the Kings got another strong effort from goalie Jonathan Quick, who didn’t record a fourth consecutive shutout but certainly was a big factor in the win, as he made 30 saves.
Quick allowed three goals but was beaten twice after goal-crease scrambles, and made a handful of game-saving stops as he improved his season record to 6-0-1.
Surprisingly, he got some offensive support. The Kings had totaled only three goals in their previous three games, which led Murray to put Parse in the lineup in a second-line role and move Dustin Penner to the third line. It worked, as Parse scored a goal and Penner didn’t record a point but was effective.
It was the Stars, though, who opened the scoring with a power-play goal with 5:59 remaining in the first period. Quick made the initial stop on a shot from the right circle, but Trevor Daley pinched down on the right side, grabbed the rebound before the Kings could cover or clear it, and scored from close range to give Dallas a 1-0 lead.
The Kings got a scare late in the first period when defenseman Matt Greene had to leave the game after being struck on the forehead by a shot. Greene missed the final six minutes of the period but returned for the start of the second period.
The Kings failed to score on an 83-second 5-on-3 advantage late in the first period, but they dominated the second period and scored three consecutive goals. Until then, the Stars had not allowed more than two goals in a single period this season.
The Kings tied the game 3:47 into the second period. Kopitar brought the puck out from behind the net and fed a pass to Voynov at the top of the right circle for a one-timer. Williams picked up the rebound and, from a tight angle to the right of the net, shot and scored to tie the game 1-1.
``The second period, we came out real well,’’ Murray said. ``I really liked the way we showed some support for the puck here tonight. We recovered, we had great second-man support there right away, and that’s where Voynov scores his first goal, with Kopi jumping in and grabbing that puck. That’s the kind of play that we want to continue to build on.’’
Parse’s goal gave the Kings the lead with 8:33 remaining in the second period. Richards played the puck near the Dallas goal line and sent a blind, backhand pass through the crease. The puck got past Lehtonen and right onto the stick of Parse, who tapped it in from two feet away to give the Kings a 2-1 lead. Brown also got an assist.
The Kings took a two-goal lead with a power-play goal with 4:39 remaining in the second period. Kopitar pushed the puck to Brown in front of the net, and Brown deftly passed the puck to the right circle, where Voynov pinched down and scored on a one-timer for his first NHL goal.
``He’s playing really well,’’ Kopitar said. ``He’s a big part of our power play. He’s logging a lot of minutes in the 5-on-5. He’s playing against the top two lines of theirs, so I’m pretty sure if he keeps it up like that, it might be a tough decision for the head guys.’'
Richards also got an assist as the Kings grabbed a 3-1 lead, which they took into the third period. It wouldn’t last long.
After Parse got called for his third minor penalty of the game, 56 seconds into the third period, the Kings killed the penalty but the Stars scored seven seconds later. Quick made the stop on a close-range shot, but the puck stayed in the crease and, during an ensuing scramble, Michael Ryder beat Richards to the puck and pushed it over the line. Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow got assists.
Dallas tied the game 7:20 into the third period. Vernon Fiddler held the puck behind the net. His centering attempt got past Greene and onto the stick of Eric Nystrom, who shot and scored from the slot to tie the game 3-3. Radek Dvorak also got an assist.
``They made a strong play there to tie it up,’’ Murray said. ``But the response that we showed is what is important. At a critical time, a critical moment, you’ve got to come and do the right things.’’
The Kings got the lead back, with 6:52 remaining in regulation, on Voynov’s second goal of the game. The puck found its way to the top of the right circle in the Dallas zone, and Voynov didn’t hesitate as he cranked a one-time shot. With Lewis running traffic in front, the shot beat Lehtonen to give the Kings a 4-3 lead. Kyle Clifford and Ethan Moreau got assists.
Brown scored into an empty net with 26.3 seconds remaining, with assists to Richards and Kopitar.