Game 45; 29-13-3
LOS ANGELES — It took them half a period to record their first shot but, like from Aesop’s fable of “The Tortoise and the Hare”, slow and steady wins the race, and in the end, the Los Angeles Kings came away with a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars.
Just 3:03 into the game, the Stars opened the scoring as Ales Hemsky was alone in front, beating Jonathan Quick on his stick-side to start things off. The Kings, though, who had been held shotless at that point, eventually picked up the tempo and at the 13:31 mark, tied it on a rocket from their newest veteran.
With John Klingberg in the box for hooking, the silver-and-black were attacking hard when Jamie McBain fed Vincent Lecavalier who blasted a one-timer up-and-over netminder Kari Lehtonen, who jumped at the puck as if he was throwing everything at the wall to see what stuck. Nevertheless, Lecavalier had his third power-play goal in as many games with Jeff Carter picking up the second assist.
In the final minute of the opening frame, the Kings took the lead as Drew Doughty fired a point shot that hit the twine for his eighth. Tyler Toffoli, though, deserves a plethora of credit for the goal as he positioned himself in front of the Dallas netminder to limit his positioning. It worked even though the goal was challenged for goaltender interference. The goal stood, though, and Los Angeles had a 2-1 lead with 59 seconds remaining in the period. Along with Toffoli, Anze Kopitar picked up an assist.
The Stars, however, were resilient as they managed to get that one right back just 33 seconds later.
Taking an advantage of an Alec Martinez miscue, the Stars stole the puck before entering the attacking zone on a 3-on-2 before Cody Eakin finished it with his 10th. Suddenly, STAPLES Center wasn’t so fired up. But after four goals were exchanged in the first, none were scored in the second as we saw a defensive battle with Quick and Lehtonen being masterful.
In the third, it was more of the same defensive excellence but turned up a notch as this contest turned into an exciting back-and-forth affair but both netminders standing their ground. At the 6:17 mark of the third, though, the home team broke through as Milan Lucic took an Anze Kopitar pass to wrist his 12th past a screened Lehtonen to put Los Angeles back out in front. Tyler Toffoli, again, deserves credit for his efforts as he screened the Dallas netminder to help with the tally. Jake Muzzin had the second assist on the goal as he extends his point streak to eight games. Kopitar, meanwhile, now has 20 points in his last 12.
The Stars pressed late but they could tie it as the Kings held on for what was a thrilling 3-2 victory to extend their win-streak to a modest two games. For Dallas, the loss gives them four-in-a-row.
As exciting as the late back-and-forth tempo was, this game was also a physical one. Alec Martinez and Luke Schenn each had three hits but it was Brayden McNabb who led the way in said department with five. As for Quick, he got better as the game went along, making big saves when his team needed him to. Overall, he made 27 to solidify his 26th win on the year. For the Kings, they extend their division lead to 12 points.
Next up for the Kings will be the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.