The Los Angeles Kings weren't exactly coming into Saturday night's game with momentum. Though they were able to squeak out a victory over Nashville on Thursday, the team looked pretty bad, and that had been preceded by a good old-fashioned beatdown at the hands of Tampa Bay.
Fortunately, the Dallas Stars provided a chance for LA to rebound, and they did with their best offensive showing all season. Result: a fairly comfortable 5-2 win.
The Kings controlled the play against the Stars and goalie Dan Ellis in the opening minutes, but the Stars' first line of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Rich Peverley got Dallas on the board first. Seguin fueled a good offensive rush from the forwards, and Benn's shot from above the left circle was deflected by Seguin and crept past Jonathan Quick. LA would get themselves on the board with an equalizer that was deserved based on the team's performance, but definitely required a heavy dose of luck. Brown cleanly intercepted a Cody Eakin clearing attempt and fed the puck to Jake Muzzin in the corner. From just above the goal line on the far side, Muzzin fired a pass to the front of the net, and it tipped off the skate of Justin Williams and past Ellis. The goal stood after further review, and the game was tied at 1.
LA might have been content to go into intermission tied, but they decided to take advantage when Stephane Robidas went to the penalty box with one minute left in the first. The setup wasn't all that pretty; Doughty picked up the puck, his pass dribbled to Anze Kopitar, who got a stick on it to keep the puck moving to Justin Williams. But Williams made no mistake with the finish, putting a backhand high above a flailing Ellis. The Kings hadn't scored a power play goal on their road trip, so this was a welcome surprise.
Ellis would recover as the second period began, stopping both Mike Richards and Jeff Carter on breakaways, and that gave his team an opening to tie the game. It was that first line again; Jamie Benn brought the puck all the way around the net, and made a wraparound style pass to Rich Peverley on the other side. Peverley tapped in after the puck got past Robyn Regehr and Quick; 2-2. The game would remain tied all the way into the third, though Jonathan Quick and the Kings' stellar penalty kill had some work to do to keep the score tied. When the performance of Ellis started slipping, the Kings made a couple nice plays to grab the lead.
Justin Williams created the first goal with 15 minutes to go; after getting the puck down low, he circled around to the blue line, drawing the defense's attention before sliding a perfect pass to Drew Doughty against the defense's shifting. With room to maneuver, Doughty stickhandled once and his weak shot (or pass, perhaps?) got through the five-hole of Ellis and just crept past the goal line. After some uneventful 5-on-5 play, the Kings got an insurance tally through Kyle Clifford, who picked up the puck at his own blue line and charged down the ice, holding off Alex Goligoski through the neutral zone. His wrist shot wasn't hard, but it may have fluttered a bit and was aimed right at the top corner. Ellis probably should have stopped it, but the shot got through and Clifford had his first goal of the season.
Matt Greene got an empty-netter with 30 seconds, when a clearing attempt from his zone deflected off the boards and trickled into the vacant net. Telling you, the guy's a born finisher. It was his first goal of the season, and it put him above Anze Kopitar, but who cares about that when Kopitar gets three assists? The first line was productive today, and they got the necessary support to start this homestand with a comfortable win over a conference opponent.