If it's Stars v Kings, then it must mean we're in for a crazy finish right? Today was no exception as the Dallas Stars were able to tie the game with 43 seconds left off a goal mouth scramble that saw Jamie Langenbrunner poke a loose puck past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. The jubilation was short lived though as with 21 seconds left, Michael Handzal scored a Kings goal mouth scramble of their own to give the Kings the lead for good as the escaped AAC with a 3-2 win and at the same time vault over the Stars in the conference standings by one point.
The game started with the captain of the LA Kings dive team Dustin Brown dramatically acting like he was shot in the leg by a slight Loui Eriksson tap of the stick to draw a power play that was promptly scored on to give the Kings a 1-0 lead. That seemed to wake the Stars up some though and they played a pretty solid first period by Dallas Stars standards though it didn't result in any answering goals. The big story of the period was special teams and the Stars inability on both sides of it, but we'll get to that after the jump...
Second period was somewhat better as the Stars were able to get some sort of sustained pressure in the Kings zone, but it was more false pressure than anything as the Kings did a great job to block shots and any shots that did get through were turned aside calmly by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick. The Kings took a 2-0 lead off a 2 on 1 play started by Anze Kopitar and finished by Dustin Penner. Stars fortunately answered that goal with a Brad Richards breakaway goal that just squeaked by Quick to keep the second intermission deficit at one goal.
The third period was almost a carbon copy of the second with the Stars having the lions share of puck possession but very little in the way of good scoring chances as most shots were either blocked by the Kings big bodies or shot wide. It also didn't help that the Stars took two early penalties in the third period effectively limiting them to 16 minutes of even strength hockey.
Dallas today had a lot of "try" in their game but not a lot of finish, so while this loss really stings (and don't they all at this point of the season) if we're being completely honest with ourselves, this was a deserved result. Credit the Kings for playing a pretty good road game, but the Stars needed to find a way to get pucks on net more and get past the blocking because it won't get any easier as we head towards the playoffs.
And credit Dustin Brown for knowing that NHL officials are completely gullible. No one in the NHL dives better than him.
- Now that I said my piece on Brown it's time for another "honestly..." moment and that is this: Dustin Brown may have drawn the penalty with some of the worst acting I've ever seen on ice, but the Stars didn't stop the Kings from taking advantage. More to the point of special teams, the Kings power play went 1 for 3 while the Stars did little to nothing of note on their 0 for 3 power play performance. We said it here before, for the Stars to have a chance in these games, the special teams battle needs to be won or at least tied. They lost it today and in turn lost the game.
- The shot total in today's game - which favors Los Angeles by a 30 to 23 count - doesn't tell the full story. The Stars had 23 shots on goal, plus 18 shots that were blocked and another (and rather astounding) 19 missed shots for a total of 60 pucks shot in the direction of the Kings net. On the other side of the ice the Kings 30 shots, 8 shots blocked and 9 missed shots for a total of 47 pales in comparison and tells you just how much more the Stars had the puck. Problem is of course when your blocked shots and missed shots total is higher than your actual shots, you're not really doing all that you can to try and get a win.
- Other Stars getting points: Loui Eriksson, Alex Goligoski and Jamie Benn all had assists. Sadly the Benn goal scoring streak falls, but the point streak is alive and well.
- Hard to really complain about this game overall because it's not like the Stars were really bad at any point, heck they had a really good period compared to previous efforts. Kari Lehtonen was solid, the defense in front of him was decent, the forwards could have been better as we've noted but outside of that it wasn't a bad day for your Stars... Just a bad end result.
1 - Alex Ponikarovsky (LA)