LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Perhaps all Martin Straka needed was a change of scenery
to get going offensively.
Straka ended a 14-game goal drought in his first home appearance with the
Los Angeles Kings, helping beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night as Roman
Cechmanek posted his fourth shutout of the season.
"We'll take all the goal scorers we can get," defenseman Aaron Miller
said. "He fit right in with all the Czechs and Slovaks, and he's a talented
player who can put the puck in the net. And it didn't take him long to show
Playing in his 700th NHL game and second with the Kings following Sunday's
trade from Pittsburgh, Straka gave them a 2-0 lead with 16:11 remaining. He
intercepted goaltender Marty Turco's attempted clearing pass behind the net,
then converted a rebound after Turco scrambled back to the crease to stop Jozef
Stumpel's shot from the right circle.
"Straka's a guy who I know quite well from international competition when
he played for the Czech Republic," coach Andy Murray said. "He's got some
skill, some speed and competitiveness. But we can't just draw on skill. We've
got to have that hard work, as well. And he looks like a guy who looks like
he's a guy who's prepared to compete."
Eric Belanger and Jon Sim also scored for the Kings, who won for the third
time in four games. Cechmanek, benched during Tuesday's 4-1 loss at St. Louis
after giving up three goals on nine shots, made 17 saves en route to his 24th
Turco made 20 saves for the Stars, who were blanked for the fifth time. They
were shut out only three times last season -- twice by the Kings.
"We know that they're a good team, so we really prepare ourselves and come
ready to play. We certainly have the last two times we played them," Miller
said. "It was a big win against a team in our division."
Belanger opened the scoring at 8:13 of the second period with his sixth goal
after a Dallas turnover in the neutral zone. He got a pass from Alexander
Frolov and beat Turco to the glove side with a short shot from the right
The Kings converted another sloppy turnover into their third goal.
Defenseman Jon Klemm coughed up the puck behind the net to Sean Avery, and Sim
one-timed Avery's backhanded pass past Turco's glove from 35 feet out with 3:57
"The game plan was to play them as tight as we possibly could," Murray
said. "I thought we were strong on the forecheck tonight and tried to cut down
on their operating space, because they've got so many people who can hurt you
if they have room to play."
The Stars were 0-for-4 on the power play, after going 1-for-7 with the man
advantage in Sunday's 2-1 loss to the Kings at Dallas.
"Our power play -- that's the worst it's ever been," forward Bill Guerin
said. "We had some opportunities and we could have won the game right there.
You're not going to score on every power play, but you can't lose momentum on
Frolov had a short-handed goal disallowed in the first period when referee
Dave Jackson, who lost sight of the puck, blew the whistle just before Frolov
tapped his own rebound into the net as the puck lay at Turco's feet.
Los Angeles had another close call at 6:48 of the second, as Straka's
slapshot from the top of the left circle changed direction off the leg of
Dallas captain Mike Modano and Turco had to reach behind him at the last
instant to keep the puck from going in.