What a Monday night for the LA Kings. For the first two periods, it was a typical Kings game.*Their first period scoring drought woes continued. For the first 6:02 I thought I’d figured out why – they didn’t have a shot on goal. Hard to score when you don’t actually shoot. Finally a bit of pressure gave them a few shots in a row but none Kari Lehtonen had trouble stopping. It wasn’t like Dallas was getting great shots off either – their second shot came at 3:55 and their third at 16:34. Anze Kopitar continued his scoring woes, with chances the Kopitar of old would have sunken easily. At 7 shots to 2 with 5 minutes remaining it seemed inevitable that the Kings would end up giving up a stupid goal without any of theirs landing, and after once chance I was sure would prove me correct it seemed like maybe they’d be spared. Also it wasn’t to be. With 56.6 seconds remaining in the first a mishandled puck from Jeff Carter (it’s okay we forgive him) led to an unmanned Richie scoring point-blank on Peter Budaj.
The second was even worse. Within a minute the Stars had 5 shots on goal. 5. The Kings took a few minutes to stifle their pressure and get some of their own, and when they did it was two consecutive shifts or it, but no pucks made it past Lehtonen. Of course similar pressure at the Kings end did result in a goal, as Budaj attempted to bat it out of the air with his arm, instead ended up twisting himself, and the puck, into the net. Dallas finally gave the*Kings a gift of a too many men on the ice penalty, which they squandered a mere 30 seconds in in the form of Jake Muzzin taking a (somewhat questionable but legit enough) holding penalty. Thanks to Drew Doughty, however, good things were to come from it. As the Stars gained back their man, he patiently waited to clear the puck, saw Tanner Pearson open instead, stretch passed to him who dropped it back to Nick Shore, who’s snipe blazed past Lehtonen for the Kings first goal! The one goal differential wasn’t to last however, as with 2-ish minutes remaining the Kings iced the puck, the Stars won the resulting faceoff and immediately scored.
The third period was just bizarre. 32 seconds in Cody Eakin slashed Doughty, and Doughty looked a little worse for ware. He spent a while shaking it off. The Kings seemed to be in sympathy with him because it took 42 seconds for the puck to even enter the Stars zone. But when it did! The play began with*Dustin Brown from behind the net passing to Dowd, who just watched the pass sail down towards Budaj. In an attempt to make up for such a brazen mistake, he made a great play to Brown who in turn scored, a beautiful shot from the circle that beat Lehtonen cleanly. That was 2:16 in. 43 seconds later the Stars took their 2 goal lead back on a complete garbage goal. (Now would be the time to point out that of the 6 goals, Muzzin was on the ice for 4, and Alec Martinez for 5. Perhaps not the best pairing.) At 4:20 Kopitar made a Kopitar-of-old shot that blasted by Lehtonen in a stunning fashion (Kopitar sighting everyone! A real Kopitar sighting!) At 5:18 Doughty tied the game with another gorgeous snapshot and pandemonium was breaking out. 4 goals in 3 minutes. But that wasnít enough for this period. It was enough for Lehtonen, however, who was pulled in favor of Niemi.*Unfortunately the next goal wasnít on Niemi; instead it wasa cacophony of mistakes on the Kings part. 7:22 in, when it was looking like the Kings might have calmed things down enough to ride out the period evenly, or even get the one up on the cold goaltender,*Budaj got caught behind his net trying to play the puck, Muzzin didnít have his man, and it was a recipe for disaster that easily lead to a Stars goal. Their go ahead goal, as it turned out. One shift later Zatkoff was in net for the Kings. He was perfect for the 8:46 he actually played, but the Kings, having pulled of 4 goals from 4 players, couldnít find a 5th. At 1:14 they pulled Zatkoff for the extra attacker, but that only led to an empty net goal, sealing the Kings fate.
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