DALLAS - The Stars may have been able to shake off a sluggish start, but weren't as lucky ducking and dodging a disastrous middle frame.
Ryan Smyth had a goal and two assists in the second period, and the Los Angeles Kings scored three times during a second stanza blitz to help them rally for a 4-1 win over Dallas on Monday night at American Airlines Center.
After a rough start in which the Kings had the Stars on their heels by firing seven of the game's first 10 shots, Dallas was able to hold serve thanks to the standout goaltending of Marty Turco and rookie Jamie Benn's goal.
But the Stars were unable to cling to the lead and hold off the hard-charging Kings in the second period, as Los Angeles, which came in having lost three straight after winning four of their first five to start the season, began to dominate by sending a barrage of attempts Turco's way.
The Kings registered 18 shots in that period compared to the four that the Stars were able to muster on Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick. The result was not hard to predict, as the Kings used the strong 20 minutes to catapult them into a big win over a divisional opponent.
"We put ourselves there," center Mike Ribeiro said about the weak second period. "We turned the pucks over at both blue lines, and we made a few at our own blue line that made chances for them. We gave them an easy game."
"We had a real good first period and third period, but we had 10 minutes in the second period where we really lost our focus and it ended up costing us the game," coach Marc Crawford added. "It's going to happen sometimes when you've got young players, and we made a lot of young mistakes tonight. We weren't very good for that 10-minute period in the second period where we turned over a lot of pucks. One resulted in a direct goal, one resulted in a penalty that ended up being a goal, and the third one ended up in a bunch of tired guys being out on the ice. We didn't get enough battle to get through that period of play."
Dallas was without leading scorer Brad Richards, who didn't play because of a groin injury. Coming in, Richards had posted three goals and nine points in seven games.
Still, the Stars were unable to contain their Pacific Division-foe throughout the night. At times, the Kings hemmed the Stars in their own zone so well and for so long that it looked as if they had the puck on a string.
"It's not an excuse," defenseman Stephane Robidas said about missing Richards, along with Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen. "We've got good enough guys, and guys who can do the job. We believe in those guys that come in, and it's just a matter of doing it. You can't look at who's not in the lineup and what's going on…you've got to control what you can control. Stuff happens during the season, and it's a chance for everybody to step up their game. That's what we've got to do."
The Stars wanted to focus their attention on the Kings' top triumvirate of Smyth, Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar, but that mission was certainly not accomplished. Williams had a goal and assist, while Kopitar also scored in the second period. That threesome has now scored 14 of Los Angeles' 28 goals this season.
Quick made 29 saves for the Kings, who won for the fourth time in their last five trips to Dallas while completing a six-game road trip. Wayne Simmonds capped the scoring with an empty-net goal with 1:37 remaining in regulation.
The Stars were able to force the play in the third period by outshooting the defensive-posturing Kings by a 15-6 margin, but Quick was in denial mode, ultimately sending the Stars to their second loss in three games.
"We've just got to play 60 minutes," Robidas said. "We can't have any lack in our game. We can't afford to play for 45 minutes or 55. Sometimes we're going to have to go for 65 minutes, that's just the way it is. We need a consistent effort every night from everybody if we want a chance to win."
Turco finished with 28 saves.
"There have been points of our games where there's been a little bit of a lackluster effort," captain Brenden Morrow said. "Tonight that was evident. In the second period our game dropped a little bit, and that's something that we need to clean up if we want to be a good team consistently."
The Kings began the onslaught when Smyth popped in his sixth of the year -- and fourth on the power play -- 5:17 into the second period. The goal came after the Stars were able to fend off a two-man advantage for 97 seconds, but with just seven seconds left in the second penalty Smyth deflected in Dustin Brown's flick from the left circle.
The goal capped a furious four-minute stretch early in the middle frame in which Los Angeles hit three posts and attempted six shots on its two-man advantage. Turco blocked four of those shots, while the other two never got through.
Williams gave the Kings their first lead of the game with his third of the season with 6:34 left in the second. Standing in the bottom portion of the right circle, Williams re-directed Matt Greene's feed from the right point.
The Kings took a 3-1 lead 2:33 later when Kopitar deposited in his fifth goal of the season. After playing keep away from Dallas for nearly a minute, the Kings converted when Williams sent a pass to Kopitar, whose one-timer from the inner part of the left circle eluded Turco.
"Everybody came out doing the right stuff in the second period," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "There was no hesitation, no doubt what we wanted to get done through the middle of the ice. All four lines were contributing, and we needed that. We needed everyone playing hard tonight."
The 20-year-old rookie Benn gave the Stars a 1-0 lead with his second of the year with just 2:42 remaining in the first period. After Quick made a nice save on Benn from the left circle, the Stars were able to cycle the puck around the boards and behind the Kings net. Morrow retrieved the puck and sent a no-look, behind the back pass to Benn, who was standing just above the edge of the crease.
Benn whipped the puck in on a one-timer to register his seventh point of the young season.
The Stars now head west for a three-game road trip that will see them face the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night (9 p.m., FSN) before taking on these same Kings at Staples Center on Thursday. Dallas will conclude the jaunt on Saturday night in St. Louis with a game against the Blues.
"After losing two at home in a row, yeah, it's a good time to go on the road," Morrow said. "We really want to be a good hockey team at home, but sometimes getting on the road and having a little bonding trip isn't a bad thing."
--Modano continues to nurse a rib injury, and missed his seventh straight game. Lehtinen (abdominal soreness) was again scratched, and has played in just two games this season.
--It was Dallas' first game against a Pacific Division opponent.
--Recent call-up Perttu Lindgren made his NHL debut, replacing Richards in the lineup.
--Los Angeles was 1-for-5 on the power play after coming in having converted only once in its last 17 opportunities.
--Benn continues to impress, and has points in all but two of Dallas' eight games (2-5-7). His seven points are tied for second-most among rookies in the league. "I'm feeling pretty good so far," he said. "I'm getting a chance to play with good players, but I've still got a lot to learn. I'm just trying to have fun out there and trying to be a student of the game."
--Dallas failed on its four man-advantage opportunities.
--Defenseman Nicklas Grossman picked up an assist on Benn's goal, extending his points streak to a career-high tying four games. He continues to lead the NHL with a plus-10 rating.