DALLAS - The Stars are counting on more offence from Niklas Hagman, a defensive specialist during his first five NHL seasons.
Four games into the season, he's giving his team everything they need and more. Hagman matched his career high with two goals, one short-handed and Marty Turco stopped 32 shots as the Dallas Stars once again beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-1 on Wednesday night. Hagman has four goals in his team's first four games.
Last season Hagman notched a career-best 17 goals, but the Stars want more, placing him on a scoring line centred by the team's top setup man, Mike Ribeiro.
"I have to concentrate on scoring a little more when I get a chance to play on a scoring line," Hagman said. "Every game now I'm going to get a couple of good chances. I've got to be ready to bury them."
Antti Miettinen, Ribeiro and Joel Lundqvist added goals for the Stars (2-2), who've won both home games by a combined score of 9-2.
Ribeiro thinks Hagman has the ability to be more of a force on offence.
"He's so fast he keeps the defence on its heels," Ribeiro said. "He has good hands. He has a lot of skills."
The Stars swept all eight games from the Kings last season, and Dallas continued that trend with the help of Hagman's fourth career two-goal game.
"We've got to change that," Kings coach Marc Crawford said of the recent disparity between the teams. "There's no magic formula. We have to execute better. We had three giveaways and they all ended up in the back of our net, which isn't characteristic of our club.
"Tonight the big story was Turco. We had way more great chances. He was the difference-maker for them."
Kyle Calder scored on a rebound at 9:03 of the third period for the Kings (1-3).
Hagman gave the Stars a 1-0 lead at 7:25 of the opening period while the Kings were on their second power play of the night. Hagman stole the puck from Kyle Calder at the right point, skated in alone and beat Jason LaBarbera through the pads on a backhander.
"I kind of read where Calder was going to try to pass and the puck hit me on the glove," Hagman said. "I was able to get on a breakaway and went through 25 different scenarios before I decided to go backhand."
Turco faced 11 shots in the first period, making a sharp glove save at 15:04 when he robbed Anze Kopitar on a rising attempt from low in the right circle that seemed ticketed for the upper right corner.
Hagman made it 2-0 at 4:18 of the second period, skating up the left side and converting Brenden Morrow's pass from behind the net for Hagman's fourth goal of the season.
Turco denied Alexander Frolov of the Kings on a short-handed breakaway at 8:20 of the second period, and Miettinen extended Dallas' advantage to 3-0 nearly five minutes later with his first goal of the season.
Ribeiro, activated off injured reserve earlier in the day, knocked a loose puck past LaBarbera from in front of the net on a power play at 16:05 of the second period to stretch the lead to 4-0. Lundqvist connected on a breakaway 16 seconds into the third period to pad Dallas' advantage to 5-0.
Notes: Hagman's last two-goal game was on Feb. 12, 2004, against Pittsburgh while a member of the Florida Panthers. ... The Stars have outscored the Kings 14-2 in the first period of their last nine meetings. ... Stars G Mike Smith was placed on Injured Reserve because of a bruised arm, meaning he'll miss at least three games. Rookie Tobias Stephan will replace Smith as Turco's backup. ... Kings C Patrick O'Sullivan was back in the lineup after taking a puck in the mouth during the first period of Saturday night's 5-3 home loss to St. Louis. O'Sullivan lost three teeth and had extensive dental work on Monday. He also had six stitches and sustained a broken bone below his nose.