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Kings score twice in third period to beat Stars

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- After not scoring in the third period in either of their first two meetings of the season with the Dallas Stars, the Los Angeles Kings erupted for a pair of goals in the final 20 minutes to hand the Stars a 3-2 defeat before 15,719 at American Airlines Center on Sunday.

Los Angeles got third-period goals from Brad Richardson -- his first tally in exactly one year -- and from Justin Williams within 1:09 to break a 1-1 deadlock after two periods. Jonathan Bernier stopped 13 of 15 Dallas shots he faced for his eighth win of the season.

"Yeah, it's been a trying year so far," Richardson said. "Felt good to definitely get in there for sure, but especially get a goal, contribute and have a nice win. It was nice."

Richardson was appearing in just his third game of the season for the Kings and first since Feb. 10 against the Detroit Red Wings. He had been a healthy scratch in the past 24 games for Los Angeles. Richardson beat Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen with a 15-foot wrister over his right shoulder at 5:40 of the third for his first goal of the season and first tally since March 31, 2012, which came on the road against the Minnesota Wild.

Following the win, which makes the Kings 3-0-1 on their current five-game road trip, Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter talked about his rationale for putting Richardson back on the ice.

"Just some energy and some speed. Him and I have a good relationship and I feel bad not playing him," Sutter said. "He's a guy that can play anywhere in your lineup. It's been hard for him."

Bernier's performance came in his first start since the death of his grandmother on March 23, and the Kings' goalie dedicated the victory to her memory.

"I played that game for her. I think she'll appreciate that," Bernier said.

And just 1:09 later, Williams netted his seventh goal of the season, collecting his own rebound to make it 3-1. After Dustin Brown fed him the puck from the left side, Williams' initial shot was denied by Lehtonen. However, he got his own rebound and flipped it in to give the visitors a two-goal cushion.

However, Dallas responded when Ray Whitney scored on the power play at 11:04 of the third to make it 3-2. Bernier appeared to be screened by Stars winger Eric Nystrom at the far post, which was where Whitney's long slapper from the left point landed.

"That was a positive, against a good penalty kill, they [our power play] got one," Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. "Ray Whitney is just a lethal guy there. That's about the only thing [we can take away from this game] -- Kari [Lehtonen] and the power play."

The Stars had gone on the power play at 9:18 when Dallas' Loui Eriksson drew a hooking penalty on the Kings' Mike Richards.

After peppering Lehtonen with shots early on, Los Angeles forward Jeff Carter put his team ahead with a backhander from the edge of the left faceoff circle just 25 seconds in to give the visitors an early lead.

Lehtonen was potentially screened on the play by the Kings' Dustin Penner, who returned to the ice after being a healthy scratch in Los Angeles' past three games. Lehtonen never saw Carter's somewhat soft backhand, which appeared to deflect off Stars rookie defenseman Brenden Dillon before fluttering into the left side of the net.

The Dallas goaltender had denied efforts from Penner just nine seconds in and a slapper from Drew Doughty 14 seconds into the game prior to Carter's tally, his 20th of the season.

Los Angeles went with Bernier in net for the first time since March 19 against the Phoenix Coyotes. Lehtonen made his 14th consecutive start in goal for Dallas.

The Kings drew the first power play of the game when Whitney was whistled for hooking at 13:55 of the first and Jake Muzzin nearly converted for Los Angeles at 15:49, but Lehtonen stopped his slap shot with a spectacular glove save.

Dallas got its first power play with 2:52 left before the opening intermission, when Kings defenseman Alec Martinez earned a minor after interfering with Stars forward Erik Cole. However, Dallas was unable to convert.

After not logging a single shot in the second period, the Stars drew things level at 13:16 when Jamie Benn flipped a backhand shot past Bernier for his eighth goal of the season. Alex Goligoski spotted Benn streaking toward the Kings' blue line and hit him in stride with a pass from just inside the Stars' zone. Benn had a step on Los Angeles defenseman Slava Voynov and skated in for the equalizer.

Lehtonen stopped 37 of the 40 shots he faced in a losing effort. Dallas also got a two-assist performance from Alex Goligoski, who now leads the Stars with 19 helpers on the season.

Dallas pulled Lehtonen with about a minute remaining, but the Stars were unable to generate any additional shots with the extra attacker.

The Stars fell to .500 at home (8-8-2). Dallas concludes a season-long five-game homestand on Monday against the Anaheim Ducks. The Stars are 2-2-0 thus far on the homestand.

"We need to amp up a level," Gulutzan said. "We're fighting for our lives here. After an embarrassing outing in front of our home fans like that, we better come out hard tomorrow. We will come out hard tomorrow if we have any (guts)."

Los Angeles outshot Dallas 40-15 and are now 14-1-2 when scoring first. They're also 5-1-0 in the second of back-to-back games.

"We really try not to concentrate on what the other team does. Most teams try and outshoot their opponents. Some nights you do and some nights you don't. But we're a team that tries to put lots of pucks to the net, so we were good at it again tonight," Sutter said.

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