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Stars beat Kings in goalie Bachman's debut

by Curtis Zupke
LOS ANGELES -- Richard Bachman was a man of solitude before his first NHL start -- the rookie goaltender stuck to his usual game-day routine and didn't have much contact with teammates.

"We didn't want to jinx him or anything," Jamie Benn said. "We kind of just left him alone and left him in his little corner over there."

But after Bachman's bang-up work gave him his first NHL win, a 2-1 victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, he was the center of attention.

"The final buzzer goes off, you can get that sigh of relief, especially in a tight game like that," Bachman said. "It's exciting. It's fun. You always dream about getting that first win. It's a dream come true tonight."

With starter Kari Lehtonen hurt and backup Andrew Raycroft struggling, Bachman got the call and won despite an off night for Dallas' special teams, which went 1 for 7 on the power play and surrendered a shorthanded goal.

But Bachman, with an old-school stand-up style, didn't leave many rebounds and came through in a tight game. He made consecutive saves on Simon Gagne and Drew Doughty in the third period and backstopped a third-period penalty kill. He was also sharp in the final minute when the Kings pulled goaltender Jonathan Bernier for a 6-on-5 skating advantage.

"He looked pretty calm back there for his first real start," Benn said. "He's a hell of a goalie. He's really calm and played a great game."

It was the second straight game a goalie making his first NHL start beat the Kings. Minnesota Matt Hackett turned in a 42-save performance on Thursday in the Wild's 4-2 win.

Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan, who coached Bachman in the AHL, said the 24-year-old will likely start the Stars' next game, Tuesday night against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

"He looked like himself," Gulutzan said. "I just told him when he went out there it's the same game that you've been playing … He's going through the natural progression. He's a good goaltender. He deserves another start and most likely against the Rangers we'll give him that opportunity and see if he can run with it."

Dallas took a 2-1 lead at 16:44 of the second on a whack near the left circle by Trevor Daley that hit the left post, hit Bernier's left pad and slid into the net.

It was an important response after Los Angeles got the crowd back into the game at 13:56 with a shorthanded goal by Brad Richardson.

"Huge," Benn said. "It was a great shift by (Tom) Wandell, (Jake) Dowell and (Tomas) Vincour there."

Coupled with Bachman's play, that was enough for victory.

Los Angeles wore its retro purple-and-gold uniforms but failed to conjure up the high-scoring days of yesteryear. The Kings scored two or fewer goals for the eighth straight game and continue to waste stellar goaltending.

"We have to be more desperate right now," captain Dustin Brown said. "We have to be more desperate the rest of the year. We aren't playing with enough intensity or desperation. We are a good team and now we are not playing like one."

The lack of offense prompted questions of possible change in L.A.'s locker room.

"I like to think and I truly believe that the answer is in here," veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "I'm very optimistic that we are going to come out of this. I know it has been a tough stretch and no one is denying that. But I truly believe that the answer is in here."

The shorthanded goal was the main highlight for Los Angeles.

Anze Kopitar poked the puck away from Michael Ryder near the blue line and broke in on goal with Richardson, who slipped the puck past Bachman from the right side.

A healthy scratch in seven of the previous eight games because of his lack of production, Richardson notched his first goal of the season.

It was the first shorthanded goal allowed this year by Dallas. Boston is now the only team not to give up one.

Ryder helped give Dallas a 1-0 lead with a power play goal on the Stars' third attempt of the first period. He drove down the right side and around Jack Johnson to get to the net before his pass through the crease hit Benn's skate and tucked inside the left post at 15:35.

"Our defenseman got beat," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "That's a no-no. You just can't give up that kind of play at the net off that read."

Benn snapped a six-game goal scoring drought.

Said Benn, "I got a greasy one there."

Bachman had a nervous moment to start the game when he went out to play the puck and almost lost it.

"I'm not always the best at puck handling out there," Bachman said with a smile. "I waited too long. In the American League you might be able to get away with that, but here they come a little bit quicker."

Former King Bernie Nicholls was honored before the game and delivered a memorable line when he said of his 70-goal season in 1998-89, "That year he (Wayne Gretzky) filled the Forum, and I entertained them."
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