Rookies lead Kings past Stars in 4-2 win
Sunday, 02.12.2012 / 8:42 PM
Steve Hunt - NHL.com CorrespondentDALLAS
-- Youth was served for the Los Angeles Kings
as Dwight King had a goal and an assist and Jordan Nolan had the game-winner -- his first NHL tally -- in a 4-2 win against the Dallas Stars
at American Airlines Center on Sunday night.
"It's awesome," Kings forward Justin Williams
said of the rookies' performances in the win. "Their excitement, other guys in the room they feed off that. Youthful enthusiasm is kind of an intangible quality. They've played great last two games for us. They've given us kind of a new look and scored two huge goals today."
King got his first career goal in the first period, scoring off a wrister 8:54 into the game. That tally came in the ninth game of his NHL career. Nolan's game-winner came at 11:29 of the third when he beat Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen
with a wrister of his own. King picked up the secondary assist, the first helper of his career.
"(It feels) pretty good," Nolan said. "I saw (King) and (Richards) in the forecheck. I know he (Richards)'s a pretty talented player, so I just got something in the slot."
Both L.A. rookies were recalled from Manchester of the American Hockey League on Friday and Nolan made his NHL debut in Saturday's overtime loss to the Islanders.
Los Angeles won for just the second time during their six-game road trip, giving the Kings a 2-3-1 record.
"Yeah, we played really well (during this trip)," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "The only time I had any issue is the first game of the trip in the first period against St. Louis. Other than that, I thought we played really well. We struggled to score. That's not a secret now. It's not about our work or compete, I know that. Our kids play hard."
and Michael Ryder
each had goals for Dallas (28-24-3).
"They're all tough losses this time of year when you're trying to catch anybody in the standings," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "We didn't start good, that's for sure. We gave them a goal early and had to press from behind."
The Kings doubled their advantage 8:21 into the second when a Jack Johnson
pass deflected off the skate of Andrei Loktionov
and into the back of the Dallas net to make it 2-0.
However, the Stars lit the lamp for the first time in the game at 13:22 when Eriksson netted his 18th goal of the season after being left wide open near the right post. After getting the initial feed from Mike Ribeiro
, Alex Goligoski
spotted Eriksson open near the Kings' net and delivered a picture-perfect pass to his teammate to set up the goal.
The Stars tied it at 2-2 4:37 into the final period, when Ryder beat Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick
top shelf with a long wrister for his 21st goal of the year. Eriksson and Goligoski each picked up their second assists of the game on the tally.
But Sutter's message on the bench after Dallas tied it was simple -- relax. That basic message found its audience.
"Not a big deal, really. That's how you've got to play," Sutter said. "It's a tough League to score in, a tough League to win in. The most important part of what you see is playing with the lead. Scoring the first goal is way more important than anything else the way this League is now."
registered a pair of assists for the Kings, his 12th multi-point game of the season.
Quick stopped 26 of 28 shots, while Lehtonen turned back 12 of the 15 shots he faced for Dallas.
Lehtonen headed for the bench with 1:18 remaining, but the Stars were unable to muster a single shot with the extra attacker. An empty netter by Williams with two seconds remaining made it a 4-2 game.
The Kings now head home, but don't return to the ice until Thursday against Phoenix. Dallas plays at Detroit on Tuesday.