The Dallas Stars were hoping to get on the Los Angeles Kings early Thursday night at Staples Center, but they didn’t. Instead, they got on the Kings late, scoring four unanswered goals in the final 22 minutes of the game to rally for a 5-2 victory and snap Los Angeles’ home winning streak at six games.
“We bent a little bit in the second period and they took a little bit of momentum, but we stuck with it,” said Stars center Cody Eakin, who had a goal and an assist in the game. “We knew we could wear them down because they were three (games) in four nights.”
The Stars, who were coming off a three day break between games, ran their points streak on the road to four games (3-0-1) and improved to 6-1-1 in their last eight games away from home.
The Stars won the special teams battle, scoring twice on the power play and limiting the Kings to just one power play chance that they were able to kill off.
“The first 15 games we kind of stumbled on the power play, but lately we are doing a lot better job,” said Stars forward Jaromir Jagr, who scored two goals in the game. “It’s important in a short season, the games are so tight and the special teams are going to win the games for you.”
Jagr scored the Stars’ first power play goal, taking a cross-ice pass from Jamie Benn and beating Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick with a shot from the bottom of the left circle to give Dallas a 1-0 lead 5:28 into the game.
The Kings tied the game at 12:30 of the first period when Trevor Lewis came out from behind the Dallas net and roofed a shot over Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen from the bottom of the left circle.
Jeff Carter put the Kings up 2-1 with 4:30 left in the second period, putting a shot on net from the right boards that bounced off Stars defenseman Jordie Benn and into the net.
But it was the Stars’ power play that turned the game around, scoring late in the second period to tie the game at 2-2. Eakin took a pass from Alex Goligoski, tipped the puck by the Kings defense and then beat Quick with a backhand shot to make it a 2-2 game with 1:14 remaining. The Stars were even after two despite being outshot 21-14 and having lost 27 of 37 faceoffs through the first 40 minutes.
“I thought the faceoff circle hurt us and we took a lot of chances off that,” said Stars coach Glen Gulutzan. “We got timely goals, our power play got two. Cody Eakin made a heck of a play at the end of the period where we didn’t have much going on. I thought we played better in the third.”
Eakin then played a role in setting up what turned out to be the game-winning goal. After Reilly Smith skated with the puck into the zone and took two Kings into the corner, Eakin picked up the loose puck and set up a wide open Brenden Morrow, who scored from the top of the crease to give Dallas a 3-2 lead 5:16 into the third.
“I think I just came in slow and everyone was looking at the puck,” Morrow said. “I think it was Bobby Hull that told Brett that the further you are from the play, the closer you are. That was true on that play.”
A little more than four minutes later, Jagr struck again, knocking home the rebound of a Jamie Benn backhand shot and the Stars were up 4-2. The tally gave Jagr four goals over his last three games and a team-high nine for the season.
“Last year, I knew we (Philadelphia) had a lot guys who could score goals. This year I’m getting paid a lot more money than I did last year, so I’ve got a little more responsibility on the power play and scoring goals,” said Jagr. “That’s why I have to change my thinking a little bit. I’ve got to be more hungry for the goals than I was last year.”
Antoine Roussel rounded out the scoring for the Stars, backhanding the puck into an empty net with 1:41 remaining to make it a 5-2 game.
The Stars, who are 4-1-1 over their last six games, improved to 12-9-2 on the season. The Kings lost for just the second time in their last nine games (7-2-0).
“We know they’re a great team,” Morrow said. “To do it in this building, to come with the third, staying disciplined, everything we talked about for our keys to the game , we end up executing. It feels pretty good.”
*The Stars have scored four or more goals in six straight road games and have scored 26 goals during that stretch (4.33 per game).
*The Stars have scored three or more goals in 13 of their last 14 games overall.
*Jaromir Jagr has scored goals in three consecutive games.
*The Stars were 2-3 on the power play in the game and are now 7-22 (31.8%) on the power play over the last six games. The Stars have scored multiple power play goals in five of the last 12 games.
*The Stars allowed the Kings just one power play chance in the game. It was the third time in the last four games that the Stars have limited an opponent to one power play chance.
*D Philip Larsen and LW Francis Wathier were healthy scratches for the Stars.
*LW Ray Whitney (foot) and D Aaron Rome (foot) are both on injured reserve.