The Dallas Stars showed some resiliency Thursday night against a desperate Los Angeles Kings team. Despite losing two more forwards to injuries, the Stars rallied to pick up one point before falling 4-3 in overtime to the Kings in a physical, intense game at American Airlines Center.
"It's good to get a point out of it," said Stars center Jason Spezza. "I think we would have wanted to get a win in overtime. It would have been a feel-good win that way. I thought we did a good job of sticking up for each other once we had some circumstance in the game. It would have been a nice one to win."
One of those circumstances in the game was the loss of forward Patrick Sharp, who left in the second period with concussion-like symptoms after a big hit from Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb. That fueled a lot of emotion in the game. Antoine Roussel went after McNabb a few minutes after the hit on Sharp and Jamie Oleksiak fought McNabb a short time after that.
The Stars also lost forward Patrick Eaves, who didn't play in the third period to a lower-body injury.
The Stars battled back from 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 deficits in the game, forcing overtime on a Spezza goal with 2:07 remaining. But the Kings won it on an Alec Martinez goal 1:20 into the three-on-three overtime, a goal the Stars challenged because they believe Los Angeles forward Tanner Pearson interfered with Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen on the play. It was a challenge the Stars lost, and that had coach Lindy Ruff pretty hot after the game.
"I think it's a terrible call at the end of the game," Ruff said. "I thought our goaltender was interfered with. I thought he was elbowed in the head before the puck went in the net. I respectfully and disrespectfully disagree with that. Terrible. Somebody is going to have to explain to me why that goal counts. I want an explanation. He's in the paint; he's elbowed in the head before the puck gets there, and it goes in our net. And they look at it for five seconds, and they call it a good goal."
The NHL's explanation was this: "After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee confirmed no goaltender interference infractions occurred before the puck crossed the goal line. Therefore the original call stands - good goal Los Angeles Kings."
Radek Faksa, Jamie Benn, and Spezza scored goals, and Lehtonen stopped 35 of 39 shots for the Stars, who are 2-1-1 on the season.
Martinez, Tanner Pearson and Jeff Carter all had one goal and one assist for the Kings, who won for the first time in four games this season. Goaltender Peter Budaj stopped 17 of 20 shots in his first start of the season.
"Don't want to take anything away from Dallas, but it's a well-deserved game by us," said Budaj. "We outshot them; we took it to them. We battled really hard to get these two points. It's a great win for us."
The Kings went on the game's first power play and cashed in to take a 1-0 lead. Nic Dowd finished off a pretty passing play, beating Lehtonen from close range at the 8:18 mark of the first period.
The Stars tied a little more than minutes later after Budaj went behind the net to play the puck and turned it over to Spezza and Spezza set up Faksa, who scored from about 20 feet to make it a 1-1 game at the 11:40 mark.
The Kings took a 2-1 lead 1:24 into the second period. Pearson set up Jeff Carter on an odd-man rush, and Carter scored from the slot.
About two minutes later, the Stars lost Sharp when he was hit hard along the boards by McNabb with Dallas on the power play. A short time later, the Stars scored on that power play when Benn went top shelf from the left faceoff circle to make it a 2-2 game at the 5:00 mark.
Just 45 seconds later there was a big scrum involving several players including Stars forward Antoine Roussel and McNabb, who had put the big hit on Sharp. Roussel took 16 minutes in penalties (four for roughing, two for unsportsmanlike conduct and a ten minute misconduct) and the Kings ended up with a four-minute power play that the Stars were able to kill off to keep it a 2-2 game.
"[The penalties] didn't make any sense to me either," Ruff said. "I like the energy, the emotion of the play. I think there's a point in there somewhere you have to shut it down. But the fact that Antoine was responding to a hit he didn't like on one of his teammates, that's emotion and energy you want to kill. That's what he brings, so I'm not going to criticize that part. I don't like the call. I don't know how you come up with all those [penalties]. I know he was very emotional on the play."
Los Angeles retook the lead with 26.7 seconds left in the second period on a goal by Pearson, who scored off the rebound of his own shot to put Los Angeles up 3-2.
The Stars pulled Lehtonen for an extra attacker with 2:30 remaining in the game and tied it when Spezza pulled the puck off the boards and roofed a shot from the left circle with 2:07 remaining. That got the game to overtime, but the Stars couldn't get the second point.
"We got a point. It would have been nice to get two," Benn said, "but you have to work to get those two points and earn them, and we didn't do that tonight."
Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he had no timetable on Patrick Sharp, who left Thursday's game with concussion-like symptoms after getting hit by Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb.
Ruff said Patrick Eaves, who did not play in the third period due to a lower-body injury, will be evaluated on Friday. Eaves was injured when he was hit with a puck in the second period.
Ruff also provided updates on Jiri Hudler (illness) and Ales Hemsky (groin).
"I have not seen Hudler for probably 5-6 days now. He's been up and down with the flu, hasn't practiced," Ruff said. "I believe when we get him back to the rink, we've got 4 or 5 days before he can get his strength back and get his conditioning. Just sitting out as a pro athlete with the flu for a week, you just can't step in and play.
"Hemsky's close. I think he's probably a player. The plan was to try to get him in by the weekend. So we've got one body probably coming back and two bodies going out. Probably have to call somebody up. We'll evaluate that [Friday]."
*The Kings outshot the Stars 39-20 and had a 78-47 advantage in shot attempts.
*Jamie Benn and Jason Spezza led the Stars with three shots on goal. Benn was tops with nine shot attempts.
*The Stars were 1-4 on the power play and 5-6 on the penalty kill.
*The Stars won 41 of 67 faceoffs (61 percent).
*Tyler Seguin won 10 of 14 faceoffs (71 percent). Jamie Benn won 8 of 13 (62 percent). Devin Shore won 8 of 13 (62 percent). Radek Faksa won 7 of 13 (54 percent). Jason Spezza won 6 of 12.
*Dan Hamhuis led the Stars with 24:14 of ice time.
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Jason Spezza
Patrick Sharp - Devin Shore - Brett Ritchie
Curtis McKenzie - Adam Cracknell - Lauri Korpikoski
Dan Hamhuis - John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya - Stephen Johns
Esa Lindell - Jamie Oleksiak
Scratched: Patrik Nemeth, Jordie Benn
Injured: Jiri Hudler (illness), Ales Hemsky (groin), Cody Eakin (knee), Mattias Janmark (knee)
Watch Postgame Quotes
Lindy Ruff: "It was a battle. Too many penalties but I like the way we battled."
Jason Spezza: "It was good to get a point out of it."
Jamie Benn: "We have to get back to work tomorrow and clean some stuff up and be ready for Saturday."
Dan Hamhuis: "It shows resiliency in this dressing room."
This story was not subject to 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.