The road woes continue for the Dallas Stars. The Stars lost their eighth straight game on the road, falling 3-2 to the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center Tuesday night.
The Stars played well against the Kings, who lead the Pacific Division, and were tied going into the third period, but Los Angeles’ Milan Lucic scored the game-winning goal with 13:43 left. After that, Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick came up with a couple of big saves late in the game to keep the Stars from tying drawing even.
“We just didn’t finish. We had some good opportunities,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “If you play that hard – and that was a hard game – you’ll win your share.”
Special teams didn’t help the Stars Tuesday or during their three-game road trip through California. They were 0-2 on the power play Tuesday and 1-8 on the trip. They were 1-2 on the penalty kill against the Kings and 3-7 during the trip.
“We have to be better on special teams,” said Stars forward Ales Hemsky.
“Our penalty kill is killing us right now,” said Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski.
The Stars, who are 0-5-3 in their past eight on the road, have lost four in a row overall (0-3-1) and are 1-5-2 in their past eight games. The Stars are 29-13-5 on the season and are now five points behind Chicago, which won its 12th straight game Tuesday, in the race for the top spot in the Central Division. The Stars have two games in hand.
“You can’t worry too much about what other teams are doing,” Goligoski said. “It’s not going to affect the way we play. We’ve got to figure out our stuff first.”
Hemsky and Cody Eakin scored goals for Dallas. Kari Lehtonen got the start in goal and stopped 26 of 29 shots.
Los Angeles (29-13-3) won for the third time in its last four games and improved to 9-2-1 over its past 12 games. The Kings have a 12-point lead over second-place San Jose in the Pacific Division.
“We found a way to win, and I thought it was through a lot of work and a lot of structure in our game,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter told media. “You’re coming off the Anaheim game (3-2 win Sunday) where it’s a different type of team than you’re playing tonight, and to be able to adjust and play through it and win, it’s a good challenge for our team, and it was a good character test for us.”
The Stars opened the scoring 3:03 into the game when Mattias Janmark set up Hemsky, who scored from close range to put the Stars up 1-0. Los Angeles answered by cashing in on their first power play of the night. Vincent Lecavalier scored off a one-timer from the right circle at the 13:31 mark.
Both teams scored in the final minute of the period. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty scored off a blast from the point with 59 seconds remaining. The Stars challenged the goal, saying Lehtonen was interfered with but the goal stood. The Stars answered 33 seconds later when Eakin put home the rebound of a Patrick Sharp shot off the rush to make it a 2-2 game heading into the first intermission.
There was no scoring in the second period. The Stars had a great chance late in the second, but Quick stopped Stars defenseman John Klingberg on a breakaway to keep it a 2-2 game.
The game-winning goal came at 6:17 of the third as the Kings pinned the Stars in their own zone as Dallas forward Antoine Roussel lost his stick. Lucic scored on a shot from the slot to put the Kings ahead 3-2.
“It was unfortunate that Roussel lost his stick, and I think the shot went off Klingberg,” Ruff said. “That’s the breaks when you throw pucks at the net.”
The Stars had a couple of good looks late, but Quick stopped a point-blank bid by Eakin with 5:28 remaining and then turned away a shot by Klingberg from the slot with 3:08 left to preserve the Kings’ 3-2 lead and send the Stars home with another loss.
The Stars now face a three-game homestand to try to get back in the win column before the NHL All-Star break.
“They are huge games,” Goligoski said. “Get some ground back and throw some points back up on the board. We’ve been good at home lately. We got to go home and get the job done.”
Defenseman Esa Lindell made his NHL debut Tuesday night for the Stars. The 21-year-old Lindell, one of Dallas’ top prospects, played on the third pair with Patrik Nemeth, registering no points, one shot on goal and a minus-one rating in 14:01 of playing time.
*The Stars’ last road win was Dec. 21 in Minnesota. They are 0-5-3 on the road since.
*The shots were 29-29 in the game.
*The Stars had a 58-56 advantage in attempted shots.
*John Klingberg, Jason Spezza and Tyler Seguin led the Stars with four shots on goal. Spezza led the Stars with seven attempted shots.
*The Stars were 0-2 on the power play and 1-2 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 30-36 faceoffs (45 percent).
*Jason Spezza won 6 of 10 faceoffs (60 percent). Cody Eakin won 8 of 14 (57 percent). Mattias Janmark won 7 of 18 (39 percent). Tyler Seguin won 3 of 9 (33 percent).
*Alex Goligoski led the Stars with 24:44 of ice time.
The Stars return to Dallas for a three-game homestand that will take them to the All-Star break. They play Edmonton (Thursday), Colorado (Saturday) and Calgary (Monday).
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Jason Spezza
Valeri Nichushkin – Cody Eakin – Patrick Sharp
Antoine Roussel – Mattias Janmark – Ales Hemsky
Travis Moen – Vernon Fiddler – Patrick Eaves
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya – Jason Demers
Esa Lindell – Patrik Nemeth
Injured: Jordie Benn (lower body)
Scratched: Jyrki Jokipakka, Colton Sceviour
Conditioning: Jamie Oleksiak
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.