Game 35: Kings Win 3-2, improve to 20-12-3
DALLAS – After arriving in Big D just this morning, the Los Angeles Kings were a tired bunch having lost in St. Paul on Saturday night to the streaking Wild. The Kings entered Sunday’s game hoping to win for the first time this season against the Dallas Stars and while it was tough figuring out goaltender Kari Lehtonen, Los Angeles worked hard and their persistence paid off as they leave Texaswith a crucial two points.
Having been faced with the unenviable task of facing the aforementioned Lehtonen who had stopped 71 of 73 shots in two previous games against the Kings this season, the silver-and-black wasted no time getting to the Finnish netminder as just 25 seconds into the contest, Jeff Carter threw a shot on net that found its way through to give Los Angeles the early 1-0 lead. The goal was Carter’s 20th of the year assisted by Mike Richards and Dustin Penner.
The Kings, however, were not satisfied in letting their foot off the gas. Instead, they were persistent, keeping the pressure on the Stars as they outshot the home team 13-4 in the opening frame and continued that dominance in the second as Dallas did not register their first shot of the period until the 13:16 mark. Unfortunately for the Kings, that first shot was a goal as Jamie Benn took advantage of a bad line change by the Kings and went in on Jonathan Bernier to tie the game. The Stars mustered just four shots in the middle frame but scored more than Los Angeles did during those 20 minutes even though the Kings registered 18 shots in the period.
Heading into the third period, frustration was beginning to set in. Despite playing a near-perfect game, the Kings just could not solve Lehtonen. Thankfully, Los Angeles was able to break through thanks to someone who hadn’t played since February 10. At the 5:40 mark of the third, the Stars turned it over in their own end and paid for it as Kyle Clifford stole the puck and fed it to Brad Richardson who scored his first of the year to put the Kings back in front. But they weren’t done there as just 69 seconds later, Justin Williams whacked his second tally in as many games to put the Kings up by two. Just like that, it was 3-1 – but the Stars weren’t done just yet.
With Mike Richards in the box, the Kings were shorthanded but Dallas was too much as 41-year-old Ray Whitney blasted a shot past a screened Bernier to pull the Stars to within a goal at the 11:04 mark of the third. But while the Stars made things interesting, they just could not find the equalizer as the Kings held on to celebrate their Easter with a big win, improving them to 43 points and just a point behind the hated Vancouver Canucks for 4th in the West.
Sunday’s win was a great example of Los Angeles winning by committee as eight different Kings had points en route to the victory. While he wasn’t nearly as busy as his counterpart, Jonathan Bernier, while not spectacular, was reliable and good enough to give his team the win as the Kings (now 3-0-1 on their road trip) travel to Phoenix for a Tuesday night matchup with the Coyotes where they will close out their adventure away from home.