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Four-goal third period powers Stars past Kings

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars knew they needed a big third period to keep their playoff hopes alive. That's exactly what they produced against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Vernon Fiddler and Ray Whitney each scored twice in the third period and backup goaltender Richard Bachman stopped all 22 shots he faced as the Stars beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-1 on Tuesday night.

"I thought that we came out in the third and getting that goal early certainly helped," Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said. "Got a little energy from it and kept going."

Bachman was perfect in relief after starter Kari Lehtonen left 14:18 into the game with a lower-body injury.

"Solid, real solid," was how Gulutzan characterized Bachman's performance. "You could see his rebound control and his confidence. He's out in his crease. He hasn't played for a while, so it's good for him."

Gulutzan said Lehtonen "has a lower-body injury. It's mild and we'll reassess it tomorrow."

Whitney broke a 1-1 tie when he beat Jonathan Quick 52 seconds into the third period. Fiddler sandwiched a pair of goals around one by Whitney in a span of 5:58 midway through the period to blow the game open.

"It seems things are clicking," Fiddler said. "We've found a little bit of chemistry and we have to keep it going if we want to make the playoffs."

The loss kept the Kings in fourth place in the Western Conference playoff race, one point ahead of the San Jose Sharks. Dallas and the Columbus Blue Jackets are even with 41 points, two behind the eighth-place Detroit Red Wings.

"Every time we lose bothers me, but with the schedule we don't have time to do that," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "[We need to] get our top players to play better. Unfortunately, some of them have not played very well against Dallas this year."

The game didn't start well for the Stars.

Thirty-four seconds after the opening faceoff, Dallas forward Loui Eriksson earned a double minor by high-sticking Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr, producing a small cut below Regehr's right eye.

And much as the Kings did in their most recent visit to Dallas, a 3-2 win on March 31, they scored early. This time it was Drew Doughty delivering on the power play, sending a 25-foot wrister top shelf over the glove of Lehtonen at 1:13 of the opening period.

Doughty's shot from the left circle came after a stellar pass from Anze Kopitar from the opposite circle. Doughty now has goals in three straight games.

Dallas failed to convert on its first power play, but the Stars tied the game six seconds after L.A.'s Jordan Nolan returned to the ice when defenseman Alex Goligoski scored his second of the year by beating Quick with a slapper from well inside the left circle. Goligoski picked up a rebound after Quick stopped Aaron Rome's long slap shot but couldn't control the puck.

The Stars preserved the tie by killing off three L.A. power plays in the second period, including a four-minute advantage when Rome earned a double minor for high-sticking Mike Richards at 9:40.

"That's one of the things we talked about [at the second intermission]," Gulutzan said. "We've got to get some juice out of those because those are big penalty kills. We talked about the guys that weren't involved in the kills to get their energy level up in the third and they did."

Dallas, which won its third straight, came out firing in the third period and needed less than a minute to go ahead to stay. Whitney put the Stars ahead when his wrister from the high slot sailed over Quick's glove for his eighth of the season. Stars rookie Alex Chiasson, playing in just his fourth career game, picked up his first NHL assist on the play.

Fiddler scored his second of the season when he redirected a blast by Stephane Robidas into the left side of the Kings net at 7:58. Whitney added his second of the night at 11:06 on a short wrist shot following a turnover by Kings' captain Dustin Brown near his own blue line. Fiddler added his second of the game at 13:56 when his shot deflected off a Kings player and into the back of the net.

"We didn't come out and play in the third period the way we wanted to. We talked about in here having a really good opportunity to get some big points," Regehr said. "Playing a pretty desperate team, [we] just came out and had too many turnovers. My two plays there were directly responsible for two goals against and just can't have that, not in a very tight hockey game like that, where you're just battling for every single chance that we had."

Quick stopped 26 shots in the loss.

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