Saturday night’s adventure didn’t sit well with Stars coach Lindy Ruff, who saw his team having to hang on to a one-goal lead late in the game.
“It was a good 38 minutes,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff.
What had Ruff irked was that after the Stars scored on a power play to make it a 5-2 game late in the second period, the Kings scored 36 seconds later to make it a 5-3 game. That fueled a big push by Los Angeles in the third, where they outshot the Stars 16-2 and scored another goal to make it a tense ride to the finish.
“It’s hard to stand here and talk about how well we played for almost 40 minutes,” Ruff said. “We’ve got some guys that have to grab hold of moments in a game and be able to change it. That shift at the end of the second period was pretty disappointing when we take the 5-2 lead, and that’s the disappointing part of the game for me. I think that leads to the type of third period that we had.”
But the Stars were able to hold off the Kings and put together back-to-back victories at the AAC for the first time this season. They are now 3-5-4 at home and 8-9-4 overall. Jamie Benn had two goals and one assist for the Stars. John Klingberg and Tyler Seguin both had one goal and one assist. Jason Demers, acquired from San Jose on Friday, scored in his Dallas Stars debut.
“I think the guys displayed a great effort. It was a little bit up and down, a little inconsistent, but we got the result,” Demers said. “Guys really played the right way and were dedicated and committed to getting the two points. That's huge for us going forward."
Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen, making his seventh straight start, stopped 37 of 41 shots.
The Kings, who got a pair of goals from Justin Williams, had a three-game winning streak snapped and fell to 11-6-4 on the season. They are 1-4-3 on the road.
“Well, it could have gotten embarrassing certainly,” Williams said. “We manned up and made a game of it. We’ll learn from that just like every opportunity for this team.”
The Stars penalty kill came up big in the first period, stopping the Kings on three power plays in the first 12 minutes of the game. Los Angeles came into the game with six power play goals in their past three games.
"That's huge, especially starting the game. That's a big momentum boost, most definitely at home,” said Seguin. “We look at their last games, and they've really had a good power play. That was key to our game tonight, winning the special teams battle."
The Stars then took a 1-0 lead at the 14:35 mark when Seguin set up Benn, who scored off the rush. The Stars struck again less than three minutes later when Benn set up Klingberg off the rush, and the rookie defenseman beat Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick with a shot from the slot to make it a 2-0 game at the 17:16 mark.
The Stars made it 3-0 with a power play goal with 1.3 seconds left in the period. With time winding down in the period, Klingberg slid down from the point and made a slick backhand pass to set up Benn, who scored from the slot.
"It was a pretty nice pass there,” Benn said. “I didn't expect it coming back to me. I was kind of just wandering around there, and he put it on my tape.”
Lehtonen set up the Stars’ fourth goal, sending a long pass to Seguin who broke in alone on Quick and scored off a wrist shot to make it a 4-0 game at the 3:57 mark of the second.
“I hopped on the ice and kind of cheated. I don't know if he looked up and knew I was there. I think he was kind of just throwing it up the ice because no one was there,” Seguin said. “It was good timing. I said to myself before the game that if I got a breakaway I wanted to shoot five-hole, and I shot there.”
The Kings struck for two goals in less than three minutes later in the second to make it a 4-2 game. Tanner Pearson scored off a rebound at the 9:32 mark and Williams scored on the power play at the 12:16 mark.
Demers scored off a blast from the point with the Stars on the power play to make it a 5-2 game at 17:53 of the second. But the Kings scored 36 seconds later when a Mike Richards shot went in the net off Stars defenseman Jyrki Jokipakka, and it was a 5-3 game heading into the third period.
The Kings dominated play in the third, outshooting the Stars 16-2 and getting another goal from Williams to make it a 5-4 game with 9:16 left. But Lehtonen and the Stars were able to hold the lead, and make it two straight wins at American Airlines Center.
Demers makes Stars debut
Defenseman Jason Demers, acquired from San Jose Friday, made his Stars debut Saturday night. And he was noticeable, scoring the game-winning goal, leading the Stars with 25:32 of ice time and landing the big hit of the night.
“I thought he played pretty good tonight,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “The hit gave us momentum, and obviously he got the game-winning goal."
Demers made an impact early, landing a big open ice hit on Kings center Jarret Stoll four-and-a-half minutes into the game.
“For sure [the hit got me into the game]. It’s nice to get something like that out of the way right away; lined up perfectly,” Demers said. “That kind of shocks you into the game and it’s nice to get that out of the way and along with the two points is always fun in the first game here.”
Demers scored on the power play late in the second period to extend the Stars’ lead to 5-2.
"I thought good first game,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “I think he lost his guy on the fourth goal in front of the net, but his energy was good. He did some good things. I liked his game."
Earthquake rattles Dallas/Fort Worth during game
A magnitude-3.3 earthquake shook the Dallas/Fort Worth area around the third period of Saturday’s game. Some people at the American Airlines Center felt it, but players said they didn’t.
Stars players did find some humor in the timing of the quake, which came about the time the Kings were dominating play in the game.
“It was probably when they (the Kings) were coming at us in the third period,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “That might have been the earthquake.”
“There have been a lot of earthquakes at our home games this year, especially in the third period,” quipped Stars forward Tyler Seguin.
Stars recognize Modano for Hall of Fame induction
The Stars recognized Mike Modano prior to Saturday’s game for his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. There was a brief video tribute and Modano spoke with Ralph Strangis and Daryl Reaugh at center ice.
There have been a lot of events recognizing Modano since his retirement from hockey in September 2011.
“This is the last official one, this is the finale,” Modano said during a press conference prior to the ceremony. “They’re different in their own way, they’ve all been really fun. They’re meaningful in different ways, the retirement and the jersey and going back to Prince Albert, and then Toronto, they’re all significant and the meaning is all different.”
Asked about the biggest memory of his playing career, Modano talked about his accomplishments in Dallas.
“I think of the Stanley Cup. I think about the popularity of the sport in Texas, making it something here in Dallas,” Modano said. “Those two things and having longevity in the sport. I didn’t realize it would last that long, but it’s gone by in a blink of an eye. I can’t believe how fast it has gone.”
Hall of Famers Ed Belfour, Brett Hull and Joe Nieuwendyk also were on hand Saturday night.
“I think Mike Modano might have been one of the most underrated for a guy with his skill,” Hull said. “Could anyone ever excite the fans, his teammates and the opposition the way he could when he got that puck and started skating? His hockey sense and smarts, his hockey IQ, were both through the roof. He was a joy to play with and really because he was so fun to play with, and he was fun as a teammate away from the game, and that was a real great part about Mike.”
*This was the final meeting of the regular season between the Stars and Kings. The Stars won the season series, collecting four points in the three games to two for the Kings.
*The Kings outshot the Stars 41-23, including 16-2 in the third period.
*Tyler Seguin led the Stars with five shots on goal.
*Jason Demers goal was his first as a Star and his first of the season.
*The Stars were 2-6 on the power play and 4-5 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 38 of 69 faceoffs (55 percent). Jamie Benn won 7 of 9 (78 percent). Shawn Horcoff won 7 of 9 (78 percent). Vernon Fiddler won 9 of 18 (50 percent). Jason Spezza won 9 of 18 (50 percent).
*Jason Demers led the Stars with 25:32 of ice time. Trevor Daley was next in ice time with 25:01.
*Stars defenseman John Klingberg has points in four straight games (two goals, four assists).
*Stars captain Jamie Benn has points in three straight games (three goals, three assists).
Jamie Benn – Cody Eakin – Tyler Seguin
Antoine Roussel – Jason Spezza – Ales Hemsky
Travis Moen – Vernon Fiddler – Patrick Eaves
Erik Cole – Shawn Horcoff – Curtis McKenzie
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Trevor Daley – Jason Demers
Jyrki Jokipakka – Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: Colton Sceviour, Jordie Benn
Injured: Ryan Garbutt (upper body), Valeri Nichushkin (hip), Patrik Nemeth (arm)
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.