Hopes of greener pastures after emphatically out-playing the Avalanche (in a loss) and besting the undefeated Sharks at home on Thursday came crashing down Saturday night in Los Angeles as the Kings dominated possession en route to a 5-2 win at Staples Center.
First periods have been a problem for Dallas in the early going and tonight was no exception, despite taking a 1-0 lead on a pretty deflection goal for Tyler Seguin. The Stars found themselves surrendering two opening-frame tallies for the fourth straight game.
The Kings dominated play in the opening frame to the tune of a 29-11 shots-attempted advantage. A better second period followed as Jamie Benn and Rich Peverley combined to knot things at two, but it wasn't to last.
Drew Doughty seemed to lose the puck in front of Dan Ellis' net in the third period as it fortuitously trickled through the five-hole to give the Kings their game winner, and fourth line player Clifford beat Ellis again from considerable distance to eliminate what little doubt there was about the outcome.
A Kings team that had scored just a single goal in three of their last four games found itself with a multi-goal lead in the third period, then an empty netter, and just their second regulation victory of the season.
After Trevor Daley took center stage with his eventful night Thursday at American Airlines Center it was Stephane Robidas' turn tonight. His failed attempt to clear the zone led to the first Kings goal. His penalty led to the second. He was on the ice for the third. Not a banner night for number three.
Ruff and company might turn to the power play first when looking back on this one, though, more than any other element.
It was ineffective, plain and simple. Zone entries were a huge problem, and the Stars managed five shots, five, in nine minutes of power play time through two periods. Benn, Seguin and Peverley deserve credit for connecting twice at even strength, but they needed more from the skill players tonight "on the job."
Los Angeles had only been shorthanded nine times total in their last three games and surrendered five power plays to Dallas tonight. That's supposed to be a huge advantage on the road, and an opportunity that must be grasped. Instead they're staring at a loss.
The Kings threw 70 shot attempts toward the Dallas net tonight. The Stars- just 50.
The Sharks, Kings, Canucks, Wild, Avalanche, Predators and Blackhawks earned points tonight. The Stars do not, and now must make a very quick turn-around to battle a rested Ducks team less than 24 hours after this one started.
Will Jack Campbell get the nod in Anaheim?
-The Stars have perpetrated more odd giveaways than a triple-A baseball team through seven games. The breakouts are not clean. The defensemen are not handling pressure well. Is this a coaching issue that can be addressed? Should Kevin Connauton get into a game? Smarter people than we will have to talk about it at some point.
-Cody Eakin's blocked shot and subsequent trip down the tunnel is cause for some alarm. The Stars center seemed unable to gather himself for a short time afterward, and Ray Whitney did admirable work throughout to put out fires for his linemates following the incident. Injury updates forthcoming.
-Jordie Benn was tried with the first power play unit. Start your Sergei Gonchar commentary on that note.
-Dan Ellis played well. The first two goals could hardly be blamed on him as Justin Williams had all the puck luck in the world tonight. He stopped several (rather unfortunate) breakaways and gave his team a chance. Say what you will about the game winner. Not even Doughty knew he was "shooting it."
-Who will start in the Dallas net tomorrow night is a matter of some intrigue. It could be Dan Ellis It could be Jack Campbell. It could even be Kari Lehtonen, though that seems unlikely at this point.
-Letting Dan Carcillo get under your skin is avoidable. There's not much mystery there heading into things, except why Dan Carcillo is still employed at such a high level. It's a statement of immense braggadocio that the Kings can afford him a roster spot, because they're so talented and deep everywhere else.
-The 'C' on Dustin Brown's jersey is presented in an awkward font. Like something a ham-fisted five year-old drew with over-sized crayon. His Dwayne Wade like exodus to the locker room after receiving another penalty, only to emerge seconds later, avoiding time in the box, seemed to match those characteristics of the farce on his sweater.
-This process is going to test your patience. Make peace with it. Then let me know how to do the same.