And in an unconfirmed
fake rumor, Jeff Woywitka and Matt Niskanen could be headed to Siberia. The furthest one, that is. We hear some Stars fans might rejoice at that news.
In all seriousness, I was about to give credit to this bunch for seemingly getting a handle on their 2nd period bugaboos that had infected their game early last season, where the Stars had surrendered 11 goals and scored only 7 for a goal differential of -4 through seven games. This season, they had been even up at 9-9 through seven.
And then they threw out that forgettable second period tonight after Brenden Morrow and Jamie Benn combined for an absolutely beautiful goal to give them a 1-0 lead going into the first intermission.
No doubt this game turned on Stephane Robidas' attempted clear of a puck on edge with the Stars already down a man thanks to Nik Grossman's tripping penalty. Instead of flinging the puck down the ice, Robi knuckled the puck into the stands and Los Angeles got to enjoy a 5-on-3 advantage that lasted 1:37.
Dallas was able to kill off the two man portion of the LA penalty. Then they killed off the next 16 seconds of the 5-on-4 after Grossman came back on. But another little mistake on the penalty kill proved costly as Jeff Woywitka, after battling along the boards with Ryan Smyth, went back in front of the net after Smyth had passed the puck to the half boards over to Dustin Brown.
For a split second, Woywitka seemed to lose track of Smyth, Brown saw this and threw the puck in on goal and the long time Stars nemesis redirected the puck under Marty Turco's glove to tie the game.
From that point on, it was all Kings in the middle frame. Eight minutes later, the Smyth-Williams-Kopitar line put the Kings on top for good as Matt Greene spotted Justin Williams to Turco's left, and fired a low shot that Williams redirected past Turco's left pad at the 13:26 mark.
About a minute and a half later, the Kings entered the Stars zone at the 15:05 mark of the period and controlled play there for the next 54 seconds by doing their best Detroit Red Wings impersonation. Anze Kopitar capped it off by taking advantage of a gassed third line and buried a chance that was setup from behind the net by Williams.
And all of a sudden, that respectable even goal differential in the middle frame through seven games turns into a -3 after eight. It also meant almost certain defeat when you consider Mike Modano, Brad Richards, Jere Lehtinen, and Steve Ott missed this contest with various injuries and that this was Dallas' third game in four nights.
Getting back to the Kings for a second, we all know they've been somewhat of an enigma anytime they play the Stars post-lockout. The Stars went 2-6 against the Kings in the 2005-06 season, then proceeded to sweep the season series the next year. And we all know about how a game between Dallas and LA is never over at the Staples Center until the final horn blows.
Despite all the success the Kings have had against Dallas since the lockout (and they've gone 8-8-6 against the Stars in 2005-06, 2007-08, and 2008-09), they haven't made the playoffs since the 2001-02 season. I have a feeling they'll seriously contend for a playoff spot this year. As bad as they've been this decade, that also means they've been the beneficiaries of some high draft picks like Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and even Jack Johnson
Sooner or later, that's got to pay off for them. And to that end, I think they supplemented that young talent very well by acquiring Justin Williams from the Carolina Hurricanes last year and Ryan Smyth this year. Andy Murray instituted a strong defensive game in this unit and those aforementioned trades should make them a stronger offensive team.
As for the Stars, I think with their second loss in three games, we can officially say they've hit their first rough patch of the season. Jamie Benn's first period goal is the only goal they've scored in their last two home games and their power play is 0 for their last 14. And the injuries are starting to mount up a little bit.
The good news as they embark on a three game West coast road trip is they'll start it at a place they've been very good at in recent years. Not to mention, the Ducks have had problems finding their footing this year after taking the Red Wings to the limit in the second round last year. Jonas Hiller hasn't been near the wunderkind he was during Anaheim's playoff run last year and the Ducks are smarting from a 5-0 shutout at home at the hands of the Blues Saturday night.