DALLAS - Three years ago, the Stars beat the Los Angeles Kings eight straight times to sweep the season series between the two Pacific Division foes. The Kings have since turned the table.
Alexander Frolov had a goal and two assists, and Jonathan Quick captured his league-leading 36th victory by making 31 saves to lead the Kings to a 5-1 win over the Stars on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center in the first game for both teams following the Olympic break.
In a matchup that pitted one of the hottest teams on the road against a scorching home team playing in front of its fans for the first time in over three weeks, the Kings cruised in winning for the eighth time in the last 10 meetings with the Stars.
It was a workmanlike performance for Quick, who set a franchise mark for wins in a season, and Los Angeles, which denied the Stars an opportunity to climb into a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"I've gotten a lot of help, not only tonight but throughout the season," Quick said. "I got a lot of support with five goals, so it was a great team win."
Mike Ribeiro spoiled Quick's shutout bid with a power-play goal 5:19 into the third period. Ribeiro notched his 14th of the year by splitting Los Angeles defensemen Sean O'Donnell and Rob Scuderi in the slot before sliding a slippery wrist shot past the 24-year-old, who was the third goalie on the United States Olympic squad.
Quick then stood tall during the rest of the third period, a stanza in which the Stars outshot the Kings by a 14-6 margin and generated many more scoring opportunities than in the first 40 minutes combined.
"We could have done everything much better. We were just flat," Ribeiro said. "We had a few chances, and we could have tied this game. We got good, quality chances in the slot, but we couldn't put them in. I'm disappointed in the chances. You can find a lot of things that we did wrong, but there's not much we can do now but bounce back."
Coming in, the Stars had strung together 10 wins in their last 12 in Dallas, while the Kings had won seven of eight on the road. But Los Angeles shrugged off the Stars recent dominance at home by putting the game away with a three-goal second period outburst that eventually led to the snapping of Dallas' two-game winning streak.
Jarret Stoll, Brad Richardson, Ryan Smyth and Anze Kopitar also scored for the Kings, winners of 11 of their last 13 overall.
"We're a team that needs everybody, and we know that," Stars head coach Marc Crawford said. "We had a few too many passengers tonight, and we can't. We're at that level that we can't have three or four of five guys not be at a pretty optimum level, especially on our defensive core. Tonight we did."
The Kings did all of this against Stars goalie Marty Turco, playing in his 500th career NHL game after registering shutouts in two of his final four games before the break while turning his season around by allowing just seven goals in his last six starts before the league shut its doors for the Olympics.
But Turco, who finished with 17 saves, was hardly to blame, as the Dallas defenders played too loose in their own zone during the first two critical periods against a Kings team that is looking to secure their first postseason berth since 2002.
"We chased a couple of times, and at inopportune times," Crawford said. "When we did chase, it got us out of position and people that had the task of covering up in behind didn't. Those are things that we want to solve. We're usually pretty good in those areas, and they made the same mistakes. You certainly can't pin (the loss) on Marty. He wasn't as good as their guy, but at the same time, we can't give up those low cycle walk chances that are tap-in goals. No goalie in the world is going to stop those goal mouth ones, and they had two or three of those tonight."
Up by a goal, the Kings began their middle-frame blitz by stretching their lead to 2-0 when Frolov scored his 14th of the season at 3:15 of the second period. Defenseman Drew Doughty registered his first of three assists on the night by faking a shot from the right point before letting go a wrister that was blocked by Turco. Frolov, though, was able to corral the rebound and neatly tuck it home on the backhand.
Richardson upped Los Angeles' lead to 3-0 with his ninth of the year with 8:27 left in the second. Doughty lugged the puck from his own zone and ultimately around the Dallas net and into the left circle before sending a pass to Richardson in the slot. The Kings' forward unleashed a one-timer that beat Turco, who was screened by Los Angeles center Marc-Andre Cliche.
Smyth broke it open for the Kings on the power play when he made it 4-0 with his 20th with 2:14 to go in the middle stanza. From the left circle Frolov sent the puck toward the net, and Smyth was able to kick it from his skate to his stick before shoveling it in from in tight.
Kopitar capped the scoring when his slap shot from the right point went past Turco after deflecting off Loui Eriksson's stick on the power play with just seven seconds left in the game.
The Kings struck first when Stoll rammed home his 13th goal of the year 5:44 into the game. Frolov tried a wraparound attempt, but after he skated above the goal line he slipped the puck to Stoll, who was sneaking in from the slot, for an easy tap-in.
The Stars will conclude their short two-game homestand when they host St. Louis on Thursday (7:30 p.m., FSSW). Dallas is 1-0-1 this season against the Blues, winning the first encounter 4-1 but dropping a 4-3 shootout decision on Nov. 25.
Entering Tuesday's action the Blues were in 12th place in the Western Conference, three points behind the Stars.
"It's really disappointing to lose a game like that," defenseman Stephane Robidas said. "There's nothing we can do about it now, and we've got to start tomorrow with a big practice and get ready for the next game."
-- Prior to the game the players that won medals at the Olympics were introduced and honored at center ice. Los Angeles had four members medal, including Doughty winning gold with Canada, while Jere Lehtinen (Finland, bronze) and Morrow (Canada, gold) were the Dallas representatives. Morrow received the biggest ovation.
-- Turco became the 57th NHL goalie to play 500 career games, and is now among five goaltenders all-time who've reached the 500-game plateau with just one team. The others are Martin Brodeur (New Jersey, 1,057), Mike Richter (New York Rangers, 666), Turk Broda (Toronto, 629), and Evgeni Nabokov (San Jose, 545).
-- Turco picked up his fourth assist of the season on Ribeiro's goal, while Quick assisted on Richardson's goal. It was the first time two opposing goalies picked up assists in the same game since March 2006 when Brodeur and newly acquired Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen did so in a game between New Jersey and Atlanta.
-- Ribeiro has points in each of the four games since returning from his serious throat injury.
-- Center Brad Richards picked up his 50th assist of the season on Ribeiro's goal. It's the fourth time in Richards' career that he's reached the 50-helper club.
-- Left wing Steve Ott returned after missing the last three games before the Olympic break because of an emergency appendectomy. It was also Ott's first game after signing a four-year contract extension on Monday.
-- It was the 200th overall meeting between the two franchises, and first of three encounters in March.
-- Crawford remains two wins shy of 500 career NHL victories.
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