DALLAS - With a pair of teams struggling to find the back of the net, a low-scoring affair was certainly in the cards on Thursday night in Big D. The expected result wound up being a straight flush.
Justin Williams scored the winning goal in the third round of the shootout, lifting the Los Angeles Kings to a 1-0 victory over the sliding Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.
After Jere Lehtinen tied the shootout with a goal to open the third round, Williams was able to squirt a wrister between Dallas goalie Marty Turco's pads for the winner. Turco actually was able to briefly stop the puck while sliding back into the net, but it eventually slipped through and in. On the ice it was not called a goal, but it was ultimately reversed after a short video review, giving the Kings the precious bonus point.
The 12th place Stars are now five points behind both Anaheim and Nashville, the two teams that hold the final pair of playoff slots in the Western Conference. Both the Ducks and Predators have 80 points, one in front of the Edmonton Oilers, who were playing Phoenix later Thursday night.
Coming in, the Kings had been outscored 10-2 in their last three games, which were all losses. The Stars, meanwhile, had scored two goals or less in each of their four straight defeats. Not surprisingly, the game went 65 minutes without a single tally.
"We left a point out there," Turco said. "We had a lot of chances that didn't go our way. Other than that there's no other way to look at it other than we missed out on a point we desperately needed. They're a team that's struggling offensively, too. Defense was solid and we had the patience to keep everything out. We just needed one and it sucks we didn't get it, but the effort was there. Unfortunately we're just running out of time."
It was the second two-goalie shutout game that the Stars have been involved in this year.
"Trust and belief can turn into frustration and panic real quick," Turco said. "This team is mentally strong, we've been through a lot and we're going to continue to fight until they tell us to go home."
Both teams were snakebit by the quality netminding of Turco and Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick during a game that looked ragged at times.
Turco picked up his third shutout of the year -- and 36th of his career -- by making 30 saves, while Quick registered his fourth blanking of the season with 29 stops.
"(Quick) played great today," Loui Eriksson said. "Our goalie played well, too. We played really well and I thought we had a couple good chances, but we couldn't capitalize on them. It's tough right now. We needed two points and we only got one."
Dallas played the majority of the game shorthanded once again. In this season of unending injuries, the Stars were without durable defenseman Trevor Daley for all but three minutes of the contest after he was knocked out by a cheap shot by Kings forward Raitis Ivanans early on. Going after a loose puck behind the goal line, Ivanans shoved Daley from behind, with Daley's head crashing violently into the boards after he was in a vulnerable position.
Daley, one of only three players (Eriksson and Mike Ribeiro are the others) to have appeared in all 74 games this season, stayed on the ice for a few minutes. He needed assistance to skate off before going directly to the dressing room.
A minute later Krys Barch engaged Ivanans in a fight, but then had to leave the game as well after being hurt.
"Barchy and Trevor went down but there nothing you can do," said defenseman Stephane Robidas, who logged over 27 minutes of ice to lead the team. "As a player it's hard to see a teammate and a friend go down like that. I think it could've been a boarding call, but they didn't call it."
It was another heartbreaker for a stung Stars team that lost its fifth straight. The injury-riddled Stars are just 4-11-2 since a 10-3 stretch that bridged January and February.
"We hung around, but the five 'D' back there saw some fatigue set in," coach Dave Tippett said. "We have lots and lots of try from a lot of people, but we needed to bury one of those chances. One game at a time, scratch and claw for points, that's where we are right now. We have to win games to keep ourselves in the race."
Turco helped preserve the scoreless tie with a terrific save on Kings forward Brad Richardson on a rebound in the slot with 12 minutes to go in regulation. Turco was then helped by the goal post 5 minutes later when Anze Kopitar ripped one off the pipe.
With 1:53 to go, Kings winger Teddy Purcell had a glorious opportunity to end it when he let a sizzling wrist shot go from the slot that was labeled for the top-right corner. Turco, though, was able to fling his cat-like glove out to snuff the chance.
During a scoreless first period, the Stars easily held the territorial edge, outshooting the Kings by a 12-3 margin, including a 10-1 advantage over the first 12 minutes of the game.
But Quick was up to the task, especially when he stopped a four-shot flurry right in front that was capped by a pad save on rookie James Neal.
"I think we were pretty dominant in the first," Robidas said. "We outshot them, then we sat back a little bit. It's just hard for us. We couldn't find a way to win."
In the second period, Quick once again thwarted the Stars best opportunity when he stuck out his left pad to stuff Eriksson's shovel attempt from in tight just over 5 minutes in.
The Kings managed to gain some momentum by outshooting Dallas by a 14-6 margin in the second period. As good as Quick was in the first, Turco matched him save for save in the second. He made several sprawling stops while not leaving juicy rebounds that the Kings could pounce on.
Through the first two periods, the Stars were unable to convert on four power-play chances, while the Kings failed to capitalize on three of their man-advantage opportunities. Overall, Dallas was 0-for-5 while Los Angeles was 0-for-4.
"We have to find ways to win, simple as that," defenseman Nicklas Grossman said. "We played a solid 65 minutes and Turks played great, it just wasn't enough. It's no time to feel sorry for ourselves. We have to keep pushing. We have to keep looking forward, keep building and get ourselves ready."
The Stars will conclude their three-game homestand on Saturday when they host the Florida Panthers (7 p.m. FSN). The Panthers are also in a heated playoff chase in the Eastern Conference. They're just two points behind the eighth place Montreal Canadiens.
"We've just got to go out and battle on Saturday," Robidas said. "We can't give up. It's our responsibility to keep moving and keep pushing."
--Tippett said both Daley and Barch are day-to-day with lower body injuries.
--Turco played in his 70th game, and made his 70th start. Both figures are the second-most totals in his career. In 2003-04, he appeared in 73 games, starting 72 of them.
--The last time the Stars were still knotted at 0-0 after overtime in a home game was March 22, 1998 when Pittsburgh and Dallas skated to a scoreless tie at Reunion Arena.
--Barch turned 29 on Thursday.
--Four of the five games between the Stars and Kings this year have gone to either overtime or a shootout, with Dallas earning a 1-1-3 record.
--The Kings are now 6-1-1 in their last seven against Dallas.
--Dallas' power play is stuck in a 1-for-29 rut over the last seven games.