LOS ANGELES –
A one-goal third period lead is no safe bet against the NHL’s top offense, and that slim margin of security showed itself in the Kings’ 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars Saturday afternoon at STAPLES Center.
The Kings managed to ward off a powerful start from Dallas, getting outshot by a large measure in the first half of the game until they were able to piece together a 2-1 lead that carried them into the third period.
“I thought we started slow, it probably should have been more than a tie game, we should have been in the hole probably,” Scuderi said of the Kings’ start. “I think we started to come around, but sometimes – we just didn’t get the job done, plain and simple.”
Dallas, coming into the afternoon with the league’s top rate of 3.26 goals scored per game, strung together two tallies late to continue their push to claim first-place in the Western Conference.
“When the time came down for [the Stars] to make a play and execute, get some gritty goals, they did,” said Scuderi.
Tanner Pearson gave the Kings a 1-0 lead with 2:23 left to play in the first when he received a pass from Luke Schenn in the neutral zone and stepped into a slap shot just inside the Stars’ blue line, ricochet off of a Dallas defenseman’s stick and high past Kari Lehtonen.
Jamie Benn tied the score with 2.8 seconds left in the opening frame when he wristed home shot from the slot. The Kings challenged for goalie interference but Benn’s goal stood.
Midway through the second, Jeff Carter gave the Kings a 2-1 lead when he snuck a shot through Lehtonen’s five-hole after he caused a turnover in Dallas’ zone that gave Tyler Toffoli the room and space needed to set up the marker.
Patrick Eaves tied the game for Dallas with 14:03 left in the third; Jordie Benn gave the Stars a 3-2 lead when his point shot deflected past Jonathan Quick with 4:58 left to play.
The Kings finished their season series against the Stars with a 2-1-0 record.
Saturday afternoon marked the club’s 200th consecutive sellout at STAPLES Center, including postseason games.
Five different players led the Kings in points scored (1), Drew Doughty in shots taken (4), Milan Lucic in hits delivered (6), Alec Martinez in shots blocked (4), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (27:01). Jonathan Quick made 36 saves in the loss.
The Kings now venture out on a two-game road trip, which begins Monday night when they take on the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 7:00 PM PST.