The familiar feelings were creeping back during the second intermission, weren't they? The Los Angeles Kings had thrown 31 shots at the Dallas Stars in two periods, and aside from a fluky Jeff Carter goal just 25 seconds in, nothing had gotten through Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Meanwhile, Dallas had taken advantage of an isolated breakaway chance in the second period to even up the game going into the third. If you really want to relive what happened in the first two, you can check out our recaps here and here...
... but otherwise, read on and learn how the Kings finally overcame their Dallas woes in a 3-2 victory. Thank goodness.
The Kings shouldn't have needed any luck the way that they controlled possession today, but it definitely helped when Carter scored his rather unexpected goal. Dustin Penner's forecheck freed the puck for Mike Richards, who tipped it on to Carter. As Penner crashed the net, Carter lobbed a backhand to the front, and it missed Penner but snuck into the top corner of the net past a startled Lehtonen. I guess he was angry about it, though; he stopped the next 33 shots from Los Angeles. The Kings only allowed four shots in the first period, so the only surprise at the end of 20 minutes was that it was still a 1-0 game.
One of our most common 2013 traditions is that of the ridiculously lopsided second period. The Kings control the play, get all the shots, wear down their opponents, and somehow... SOMEHOW... don't score. It returned today in force, as the Kings racked up 18 shots in the second and, instead of increasing their advantage, lost the lead. It took 13:16 for Dallas to even test Jonathan Bernier, but when Alex Goligoski and Jamie Benn surprised LA and found a golden chance, they made it count. The Kings cleared their zone and made a partial change, but Goligoski picked up the puck behind his own blue line and fired a pinpoint pass across three lines to a streaking Benn. Slava Voynov and Rob Scuderi were caught flat-footed, and Benn made a move and backhanded the puck through Bernier's legs to even up the score.
So, the third period. After outshooting the Stars 31-8 in the first two periods and suffering through an exhausting 4-3 shootout loss to Minnesota the night before, you might have expected the Kings to come out flat or hit a wall. Rather, they continued pressing for a go-ahead goal, and they got it five minutes in. Brad Richardson, Kyle Clifford, and Tyler Toffoli put in an absolutely possessed forechecking shift to cause a bit of panic in the Dallas zone. The Stars got the puck back, and Tomas Vincour tried a no-look pass to Antoine Roussel to get the puck out, but Kyle Clifford charged forward and deflected the puck to Richardson. Richardson hadn't scored in 365 days, but he didn't miss a beat and roofed the puck past Lehtonen for his first goal of the season. A lot of fans have been clamoring for Richardson to get some quality time in the Kings' lineup, and after this we might see him a bit more.
Flush with their success, the Kings beat Lehtonen again just 1:09 later, and it was caused by a less surprising trio of contributors this time. Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, and Justin Williams charged forward simultaneously, and Brown fed Williams for a one-timer in close. Lehtonen made the initial stop, but Williams followed his shot and converted the rebound to give Los Angeles a 3-1 lead. At this point, Dallas had just nine shots to LA's 37, and with a two-goal deficit staring them in the face they finally found some decent scoring chances. Bernier held the door for a while, making a massive stop point-blank on Eric Nystrom midway through the period. But Ray Whitney beat Bernier near the end of a power play in the third period, and thus the homestretch became a lot more stressful.
Fortunately, despite some offensive zone presence and some decent looks, Bernier only had to stop a Jaromir Jagr wraparound over the final nine minutes to maintain the one-goal lead. This wasn't his best performance, but it didn't need to be, and after Bernier had to leave the team during family troubles, it was good to see him return with a win. And it took long enough, but at least now we know that the Kings only have to outshoot Dallas by 25 to win. Seven out of eight possible points on this road trip ain't too shabby; can they make it even better with a win in Phoenix on Tuesday night?