The Kings lost to the Dallas Stars last night in overtime after blowing a 2-0 lead. After the first 20 minutes of play, there was no score and the teams looked to be pretty evenly matched. The Stars had control of the puck for most of the second period, outshooting the Kings 14-8, but the Kings managed to sneak 2 of those 8 shots past the Stars’ goaltender, Kari Lehtonen. The first goal came from the sizzling hot Mike Richards, who got his 8th goal in 8 games. I keep preparing myself for the streak to end, but somehow Mike just keeps finding ways to get goals. He is EXACTLY what this team needed and more. The second goal came 36 seconds later, from none other than the Kings’ fourth line enforcer, Kevin Westgarth. If you didn’t watch the game then you are probably thinking it was a lucky bounce or an accidental tip in, but NO! It was a great shot that just went flying over the left shoulder of Lehtonen (as seen in photo above). That was his first NHL goal in his career 73 games. He is just one point away from matching the 3 points he had in 56 games with the Kings last season. Way to represent the fourth line, Westy! The second period ended on that note, with the Kings up 2-0.
The third period was about 2 minutes underway when the Kings couldn’t hold off the Stars any longer and Jamie Benn put an end to the potential shutout for Jonathan Quick. There wasn’t a whole lot that Quick could have done to prevent this. It all started with a turnover in the neutral zone by Slava Voynov, who eventually had time to recover and redeem himself, but then it was defenseman Matt Greene who went slightly out of position leaving the left side completely open for Benn. Quick made a desperate attempt to lay his body out across the ice in order to block the shot, but Benn just waited until he was down to flip it right over him, giving the Stars a fighting chance. This left them with an 18 minute opportunity to tie up the game and send it to overtime. The Kings were outshot 13-6 in the third period, but were able to hold down the lead until the last 20.3 seconds of the game when Jamie Benn and Michael Ryder worked magic and set up a beautiful play for Loui Eriksson to come in and score on Quick. I place a lot of blame on Ethan Moreau for this late goal. He was sent to the box for a slashing penalty with 2 and a half minutes left in regulation with the Kings up 2-1. While the power play technically expired just milliseconds before the goal was scored, Moreau’s left skate was probably still halfway in the box. Even if they had scored when Moreau was back on the ice and covering the d-zone, he still gave them a full 2 minutes to build momentum and create opportunities that led to the Eriksson goal. He is slowly starting to build a track record of taking penalties at the very wrong times and it’s starting to wear on me.
In overtime, it looked pretty even until around the 2 minute mark when Jack Johnson threw a check on Mike Ribeiro that helped the Stars set up the game-ending play. I understand what Johnson was trying to do but it would have been more beneficial to the team if he had just started skating back to the defensive zone. Instead, he knocked Ribeiro off the puck, where it was picked up by Stephane Robidas who came skating through on the ride side with a wide open Steve Ott coming down the left wing. Johnson wasn’t there in time to cover the d-zone and he left the two Russian kids, Voynov and Loktionov (a forward) to try and cover the play. It clearly wasn’t enough and Steve Ott cashed in on his 4th of the year and second straight game-winner. I can’t believe I am actually saying this, but the Stars probably deserved that last goal. As a Kings fan, I understand what it’s like to dominate a team for most of the game and still lose. That’s a scenario that the Kings have seen countless times this season, so I respect what the Stars did towards the end there. They never stopped battling hard and that’s why the game ended the way it did. The Kings should be taking notes.
The Kings and Stars are now tied with 26 points for 1st place in the division and 4th in the conference. Stars’ goaltender Kari Lehtonen remains at the top of league in wins with 13. Prior to last night, Jonathan Quick had won his last six starts in Dallas and the Kings were 8-1-1 in their last ten road meetings with them. They will face the Chicago Blackhawks for the first time this season on Saturday at 7:30pm at Staples Center. After a pretty good start to the season, the Hawks have lost their last three games to Calgary, San Jose, and Edmonton (a 9-2 blowout), but are one point above the Kings with 27. Last season, the Kings lost all four of their games against Chicago, so they look to turn that around with a win on Saturday. It should be a great game so nobody get too sucked into the USC/UCLA football matchup.
Tags: Andrei Loktionov Chicago Blackhawks Dallas Stars Ethan Moreau Jack Johnson Jamie Benn Jonathan Quick Kari Lehtonen Kevin Westgarth Los Angeles Kings Loui Eriksson Matt Greene Michael Ryder Mike Ribeiro Mike Richards Slava Voynov Stephane Robidas Steve Ott