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Stars get two power-play goals to beat Kings

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars' power play finally gave the fans at American Airlines Center something to cheer about.

The Stars entered Tuesday night a League-worst 3-for-63 with the man advantage, but scored twice on the power play in their own building for the first time this season and beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2.

Dallas got power-play goals from Erik Cole, who scored twice, and Tyler Seguin, who contributed a goal and an assist, in the second period.

"We did some good things," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said of his power play. "On the rebound, [Alex] Chiasson threw a puck to the net that Tyler [Seguin] did a great job of putting it into the back [of the net]. We missed on some really good opportunities, but it helped win us the game."

Stars captain Jamie Benn chipped in two assists, and Kari Lehtonen made 23 saves. But it was the power play's 2-for-5 performance that made the difference.

"I can't sit there and say that we weren't doing things properly before, but we just weren't getting enough pucks at the net and second and third chances, just being as opportunistic as we should have been," Cole said.

Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar scored for the Kings, who've lost four in a row. That streak began with a 5-2 loss to the Stars in L.A. on Dec. 23.

"I thought we played really well," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "We got a little bit of a bad break on the second goal. We're not scoring any goals right now. We easily could have won the last three. That's the way it goes."

Lehtonen delivered an early big save, robbing Carter from point-blank range 7:50 into the game. But Carter got even at 13:23 when he scored his 13th of the season off a deflection with the Kings on a 4-on-3 power play. Carter, who was battling for position at the left post, got in front of a shot by Mike Richards from the high slot; the puck hit Carter's stick and his right shoulder before going past Lehtonen.

Los Angeles went on the power play when Stars rookie defenseman Kevin Connauton was called for tripping at 12:07, 18 seconds after the Kings' Justin Williams was sent off for slashing. Dallas' Ryan Garbutt earned the first penalty of the sequence for delay of game at 10:45.

Dallas tied it at 15:58 when goalie Ben Scrivens (29 saves) stopped Alex Chiasson's power-play shot with his pad, but Cole was there to snap home the rebound.

The Kings nearly regained the lead at 17:13 but Kopitar's wrister from the slot rang off the crossbar.

Dallas took its first lead at 12:13 of the second when Seguin scored a power-play goal from a nearly impossible angle. Seguin collected the carom of Chiasson's left-point wrister off the end boards and fired from near the goal line; the puck hit Scrivens' left pad and went over the goal line for his 20th of the season.

"I've got to be able to make it back to the post a little quicker," Scrivens said. "That's how goal scorers score goals; they throw the puck. They find ways to score when it doesn't look like there's room. I've got to give credit to a good player too."

Cole added his second of the night at 15:16 when he beat Scrivens with a wrister from the edge of the left circle. Cole's 10th of the season came from almost the same spot where Scrivens denied him with his skate six seconds earlier.

"Physically, he's dominated some of the game," Ruff said of Cole. "He's got himself in the right spot."

Kopitar made it 3-2 when he beat Lehtonen to the short side with a wrister from the left circle 1:05 into the third period. The puck deflected off Jamie Benn, and with older brother Jordie in the vicinity, Kopitar collected the puck and rifled a shot past Lehtonen for his 13th of the season.

However, after that goal, Dallas really clamped down on the Kings, ratcheting up their team defense to a stifling level for the rest of the game.

"We were as solid as we could be. You're going to have to give up some opportunities, but I thought we still played, moved the puck well," Ruff said. "It wasn't like we just sat back and let 'em come at us."

With 1:01 remaining, Scrivens left the ice for the extra attacker. Williams had a great chance to force overtime with 24 seconds remaining in regulation, but his shot was deflected and quickly smothered by Lehtonen.

Dallas finished December with an 8-3-4 record and despite that solid mark, Ruff disclosed several New Year's resolutions he has heading into 2014.

"The only one really is just stay grounded. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Try to stay consistent. Our hard work ethic in the first 40 games has been good," Ruff said. "If we can consistently work like that, then we'll have success."

Both teams play again Thursday. The Kings conclude a four-game road trip when they visit the St. Louis Blues and Dallas hosts the Montreal Canadiens.

"You've got to work harder. You've got to pay more attention to details and get back to playing our game," Kings defenseman Matt Greene said. "We're not playing as well as we can right now and that's it. There's no moral victories, there's nothing like that going on here. Everybody has to raise their game to a level that they can play at and they've played at before."

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