After playing well and taking three of four points in games against Central Division rivals Chicago and St. Louis over the weekend, the Stars rolled out a clunker against the top team in the Pacific Division Tuesday night, falling 5-2 to the Los Angeles Kings at American Airlines Center.
“We laid an egg tonight,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “This was a big letdown for us. We came out flat. We knew it was going to be a real tough game. They came out good. We game out casual.”
The Kings scored 23 seconds into the game, made it 2-0 five minutes later and had a 4-1 lead by the 21-minute mark of the game.
“Too many mistakes,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “Little mental mistakes. Give up a goal the first shift of the game and then a couple of bad turnovers. We hung our goalies out to dry. And they outworked us, too.”
The Kings scored five goals on 22 shots, but Ruff wasn’t putting any of the blame on his goaltenders. Kari Lehtonen got the start and was taken out after the Kings’ fourth goal. Antti Niemi played the rest of the way and allowed one.
“Nothing to do with the goalies,” Ruff said. “The goalies didn’t make any of those plays. The goalies tried to cover up [the mistakes], but those were a couple of tough ones to cover up on.”
Alex Goligoski and Cody Eakin scored for the Stars, who had a five-game points streak snapped. The Stars (41-21-9) are tied with St. Louis at 91 points, but the Blues are in first place in the Central Division and the Western Conference based on the regulation/overtime wins (ROW) tiebreaker.
The Kings (42-22-5) are just two points back for the conference lead with 89 points and have two games in hand on both the Stars and Blues. The Kings, who routed Chicago 5-0 Monday night, extended their points streak to five games (4-0-1) and improved to 9-2-1 over their past 12 games.
“It’s that time of the year,” said Kings center Anze Kopitar. “You got to start sharpening up, and what is it, I think 13 we’ve got left in the season? We want to make sure that obviously we’re peaking at the right time. There’s still some room for improvement, but we feel like we’re on the right track.”
The Kings took advantage of a Dallas turnover on the first shift and scored 23 seconds into the game when Rob Scuderi’s shot from the point was tipped by Kris Versteeg and then went off traffic and past Lehtonen. Los Angeles made it a 2-0 game when Stars defenseman Kris Russell fell in the Dallas zone, creating a two-on-one and Nick Shore set up Tyler Toffoli, who scored from close range at the 5:25 mark.
The Stars scored on their first shot at 8:47 of the first when a Goligoski pass bounced off a Kings defender and past Los Angeles goalie Jhonas Enroth to make it a 2-1 game.
The Kings extended the lead to 3-1 late in the first when Milan Lucic made a nice keep at the Dallas blue line and backhanded the puck to Kopitar, who slipped around Russell and beat Lehtonen with a backhand shot.
“We got off to an early lead again, which it’s obviously great to play with the lead, but we followed it up,” said Kopitar. “Every time they inched closer, we had an answer, and obviously that’s huge.”
The Kings scored 1:07 into the second period to extend their lead to 4-1. Kyle Clifford put a shot on goal off the rush, and Dustin Brown scored on the rebound. That ended the night for Lehtonen, who was replaced by Niemi.
The Stars cut the lead to 4-2 with a power play goal. During a scramble in front of the Los Angeles net, Eakin got credit for the goal when Kings defenseman Drew Doughty put the puck into his own net.
But Los Angeles regained the three-goal lead Vincent Lecavalier picked off a Goligoski pass and set up Trevor Lewis, who scored from the slot to make it 5-2 at 14:48 of the second. And that’s the way it stayed for the rest of the game.
“We're back at it on Thursday against another good team here, so we've got to let this one go,” Stars forward Patrick Eaves said. “We have Tampa Bay coming in, and they're going to be just as good or better than LA was tonight, so we've got to be ready."
Spezza and wife welcome fourth daughter to the world
Stars center Jason Spezza and his wife, Jen, welcomed their fourth daughter into the world Tuesday afternoon. Julia was born at 1:12 p.m. and weighed in a six pounds, two ounces. Mom and baby are doing fine. Jason made it to the rink in time for Tuesday’s game.
*The Stars are 8-5-3 vs. the Pacific Division.
*The Kings are 10-4-2 vs. the Central Division.
*Los Angeles is 9-1-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.
*The Stars outshot the Kings 26-22 and had a 54-43 advantage in attempted shots.
*Jason Spezza led the Stars with 5 shots on goal and 8 shot attempts.
*Spezza had a six-game goal scoring streak snapped.
*The Stars were 1-3 on the power play and 1-1 on the penalty kill. The Stars have killed 21 straight opposition power plays.
*The Stars won 22 of 57 faceoffs (39 percent).
*Tyler Seguin won 4 of 5 faceoffs (80 percent). Radek Faksa won 6 of 12 (50 percent). Jason Spezza won 5 of 11 (45 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 4 of 14 (29 percent). Cody Eakin won 3 of 13 (23 percent).
*Tuesday’s attendance was 18,532, a sellout.
The Stars continue their homestand when they host Tampa Bay Thursday. The Lightning have gone 1-3-1 since stringing together a nine-game winning streak.
Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Patrick Eaves
Valeri Nichushkin – Jason Spezza – Tyler Seguin
Antoine Roussel – Radek Faksa – Ales Hemsky
Travis Moen – Vernon Fiddler – Brett Ritchie
Kris Russell – Alex Goligoski
Johnny Oduya – Stephen Johns
Patrik Nemeth – Jamie Oleksiak
Injured: Patrick Sharp (lower body), John Klingberg (lower body), Jordie Benn (lower body), Mattias Janmark (upper body), Jason Demers (shoulder)
Scratched: Colton Sceviour
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.