Why a Romeo and Juliet quote? Well, after Romeo supposedly finds out that Juliet is dead (SPOILER ALERT: she's not), he recognizes that fate has forced him down a road without his true love; however instead of accepting it, he looks for a way to avoid the hand he's been dealt. He defies the stars. It looked like the Los Angeles Kings were destined to lose tonight at a couple points; the Dallas Stars have given LA fits all year, and early in the third, a fateful turn of events put the Kings in a 3-2 hole. Instead, they defied the Stars and triumphed in overtime, 4-3.
[Box Score] [Zone Starts] [Shot Differential] [Video Highlights]
Period 1 saw the Kings adapting a slightly altered strategy against a goaltender who has been almost perfect against them this season. Repeatedly, LA was trying to get people in Lehtonen's face and throw him off, and even when they weren't doing that, they were throwing the puck to the front and trying to cause some chaos. It helped them take an early 1-0 lead, and it was largely thanks to a player who had one of his strongest performances of the season: Dustin Penner. Penner took the puck near the right circle and wheeled all the way around the net while holding off Dallas defenders, as his linemates Mike Richards and Jeff Carter drifted to the front. Penner eventually took Alex Goligoski and Jamie Benn with him, and with Philip Larsen trying to cover both guys, Penner delivered a swift pass to Richards. Richards deftly put a backhand shot above Lehtonen's shoulder for a 1-0 lead. The one-goal advantage stood for the rest of the frame, despite five penalties creating plenty of 5-on-4 time. The refs put on a show tonight... more on that later.
Dustin Brown scored his 17th goal of the season, and the entire line contributed. Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar fought for the puck below the goal line, and Kopitar eventually fed Dustin Brown at the right circle. Brown drifted towards the middle and beat Lehtonen cleanly, thanks to a screen by Williams and an ideally placed shot. The Stars needed to fight back, and they did so in the best way possible by scoring 20 seconds later. Ray Whitney took a shot from the point with Dave Joseph still announcing the prior score, and it took a huge bounce off of Drew Doughty's stick. Jonathan Quick's trademark active style of goaltending was effective tonight, but the bounce caught him out a bit, and Loui Eriksson chipped the bouncing puck in passed Robyn Regehr and just above Quick's glove. Credit should go to the Stars for their effort tonight; they didn't back down, and they killed two more penalties before evening things up on a dubious goal.
Alex Goligoski took a long shot which was deflected by Ryan Garbutt on its way to the net. Garbutt actually LEAPT off the ice to make contact with the puck, which was around his shoulders at the time of deflection. The refs took no issue with it at the time; if the deflection had gone in, the refs would have gone for review, and Toronto likely would have overturned the call on the ice. However, Quick made a fine save and was punished for it, as Antoine Roussel tapped in the rebound and the refs had no way of overturning it. (The refs apparently did defend their call on the ice, for what it's worth.) In the end, it was simply a blown call, and though the Kings were not pleased, the score was 2-2 into the intermission.
I remember a time at the beginning of the year where goaltender interference seemed to be a talking point every night based on some team getting screwed over. The refs seem to have gotten better at making those judgment calls. (Our Dallas brethren weren't too happy with the refs regarding goalie interference around Lehtonen, though.) But the Kings were on the wrong end of a big one tonight, as their strong third period start got wiped out by a controversial call. Trevor Lewis appeared to score just ten seconds in, but the goal was immediately washed out as Kari Lehtonen was crashed into and couldn't make the save. The only problem? Aaron Rome was the one who knocked Lehtonen over. Naturally, that's not reviewable either, and thirty seconds later it was Dallas who led after Alex Goligoski scored.
Response? You got it. Los Angeles picked up a power play soon after, on a call which might normally escape the ref's attention but certainly wasn't going to after they missed a call our way. So here's to you, Brenden Dillon, for putting a guy in a headlock and yanking him backwards by the neck; not your brightest move. Dustin Brown potted his second goal of the game on the ensuing power play, which showcased some outstanding puck movement. That's eight straight games with a power play goal for the Kings. From there, both goalies were strong, and the game went to overtime after one more controversial incident featuring Dustin Brown. Given that Antoine Roussel's stick did most of the damage, I'm inclined to say that at most it could have been interference, but it's definitely not suspendable. (DBD's opposing viewpoint is here.)
The Stars got a key point, but that was all they were getting. LA clearly wanted to end this one before a shootout, and they dominated the extra session. Carter missed a golden opportunity to win it but ended up scoring on a luckier play, by getting to the front of the net for a chest-high feed from Mike Richards. (Great play by Doughty entering the zone as well.)
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Thankfully, the puck did not go off his stick, which was perilously close to the crossbar... imagine the anger if that had been waved off? Instead, the puck deflected off his chest/upper body and in, putting the Kings two points ahead of San Jose and further from St. Louis and Minnesota, both losers tonight.
By the way, we'll be rooting for them next game (they face San Jose), and they'll be rooting for us twice (we play Minnesota, then Detroit). Hooray, awkward rooting interests!