“Honestly, we’re not happy,” said Stars defenseman Brenden Dillon. “We have high expectations in this group, and we know we have a good group in here and we can be better.”
Turnovers were a problem again for the Stars, who committed 19 giveaways in the game. Two of them led to Los Angeles goals.
“When I look at this [stats] sheet and I see 19 giveaways, we are not going to win hockey games,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “That’s where I have to change the mentality. Enough of the pond hockey. Enough of hope plays. We are sitting at 4-4-4. We’ll start it at simple, and we’ll build it up again.”
The Stars scored one goal for the third straight game. The power play is 0-14 during that stretch and was 0-4 Tuesday night and surrendered a shorthanded goal.
“Right now, it’s a major problem,” Ruff said. “It gave them energy. Our mentality on our power play has to change. Again, we started off passing through seams and then we gave up a shorthanded goal, which really hurt us.”
“It’s frustrating,” said Stars forward Shawn Horcoff. “Special teams are a huge part of the game nowadays and usually whoever wins the special teams battle wins the game. We have to be better.”
The Stars and Kings headed into the third period tied 1-1, but the Kings scored twice in the third to win the game. The Stars have been outscored 16-8 in third periods this season. Los Angeles has outscored its opponents 9-4 in the final 20 minutes of regulation.
“We gave them their scoring chances. We gave them their goals,” said Horcoff. “That’s definitely an area we’ve got to shore up. You see the good teams that have already made the adjustment, made the commitment to playing good defense and being comfortable in a tight game. We’re not there yet, but I have full confidence that we are going to get there.”
Horcoff scored the lone goal and goaltender Kari Lehtonen stopped 27 of 30 shots for the Stars, who are now 1-1-4 at home.
“We’ve got to improve our home record,” said Dillon. “This is our home rink, our home fans. We have to be better here.”
The Kings snapped a four-game winless streak and won for the first time in six attempts on the road this season (1-3-2). They improved to 7-4-2 overall.
“You need to win games on the road in this league,” said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. “We’re obviously happy with what we’ve done at home so far this year, but we were really disappointed with our road play. Even tonight, we still didn’t come out the way we wanted to, but our second and third period were good and that’s why we won the game.”
The Stars struck early to take a 1-0 lead. Horcoff got behind the Kings defense, took a pass from Vernon Fiddler and beat Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick with a wrist shot 2:37 into the game. The Stars’ penalty kill thwarted two Los Angles power plays in the period and then had a chance to extend the lead with a power play opportunity late in the frame, but couldn’t take advantage.
The Stars went on a power play early in the second, but it was the Kings who scored. Jarret Stoll picked off a Kari Lehtonen pass along the boards and chipped it into the slot, where Trevor Lewis out battled Jordie Benn for the puck and then scored from close range to tie the game 1-1 at the 2:55 mark of the second. The Stars had two more power play chances in the period, and the Kings had back-to-back power plays, including more than a minute of five-on-three time, but neither team could cash in.
The Kings scored early in the third to take a 2-1 lead. After a Stars turnover in their own end, Mike Richards set up Dustin Brown, who scored from the slot at the 4:23 mark. The Kings were able to extend the lead later in the period. Moments after Tyler Seguin hit the post at one end, a Lewis shot deflected off the skate of Kyle Clifford and past Lehtonen at the other end to make it a 3-1 game at the 11:35 mark of the third.
Nichushkin, Gonchar return
Forward Valeri Nichushkin and defenseman Sergei Gonchar both returned from injury Tuesday night. Nichushkin, who has been out since Oct. 11 with hip/groin issues, had no points and no shots on goal in 12:38 of playing time.
“Val skated well, but his hands weren’t where we needed them,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. He had a couple tough plays. We didn’t know what to expect. He’s missed a lot of hockey. There were times I thought he really skated well.”
Gonchar, who has been out since the preseason due to a fractured ankle, played 12:36 and registered no points and one shot on goal.
“I thought he was good defensively, and he had a good (scoring) opportunity walking in,” Ruff said.
*The Stars are 1-3-1 when tied after two periods.
*The Stars have been outscored 16-8 in third periods.
*The Stars outshot the Kings 34-30.
*Cody Eakin led the Stars with five shots on goal.
*The Stars had 19 giveaways in the game to nine giveaways for the Kings.
*Dallas was 0-4 on the power play Tuesday. They are 0-14 on the power play over the last three games.
*The Stars were 5-5 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 30 of 67 faceoffs (45 percent).
*Cody Eakin won 11 of 17 draws (65 percent). Tyler Seguin won 6 of 12 (50 percent). Jason Spezza won 6 of 15 (40 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 4 of 15 (27 percent).
*Trevor Daley led the Stars in ice time with 28:32.
*Daley played in his 700th NHL career game.
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Valeri Nichushkin
Erik Cole – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Ryan Garbutt
Shawn Horcoff – Vernon Fiddler – Colton Sceviour
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Jamie Oleksiak – Sergei Gonchar
Scratched: F Patrick Eaves, D Kevin Connauton
Injured: D Patrik Nemeth (arm laceration)
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.