LOS ANGELES – The Stars weren’t fazed by squandering a pair of two-goal leads and allowing three power-play goals in their charged-up game against the Los Angeles Kings. Loui Eriksson’s two-goal night and Kari Lehtonen’s key saves helped them get past all that.
Eriksson notched the shootout winner after scoring twice in regulation, and Lehtonen made 37 saves to lift the Stars to an exhilarating 5-4 shootout win over the Kings on Thursday night at Staples Center.
The Stars were up 2-0 and 3-1 before seeing their 3-2 lead fritter away in the third period thanks to a pair of Los Angeles power-play goals. But Eriksson forced the game into overtime with his second tally of the night with 5:25 to go in the third with a power-play goal of his own, and won it with a sparkling maneuver in the second round of the shootout.
Lehtonen, in turn, shut the door on the Kings in the extra session by making four saves before making one additional one on Los Angeles’ Dustin Brown in the second round of the shootout.
The win gives the Stars (24-17-1) 49 points, one behind the Kings (21-15-8) for eighth place in the Western Conference.
“It was an important win for us,” Eriksson said. “We came back, and it was a big two points for us. We found a way to stick with it. All the guys worked really hard, and Kari was excellent for us. It was just a solid game.”
The game turned topsy-turvy in the pivotal third period. Trailing by a goal after 40 minutes, the Kings leapfrogged into the lead after the Stars got themselves into penalty trouble early in the third. Los Angeles, which ultimately finished 3 of 7 with the man advantage, tied the game at 3 when Jack Johnson converted with the Stars down two men, and went ahead 4-3 on Brown’s power-play goal just under 9 minutes into the third.
“It was a 5-on-3 and those are hard to kill off,” Nystrom said. “We knew if we just stuck with it we’d get our chance.”
That opportunity came just over 3 minutes later when Morrow was indirectly responsible for helping Eriksson cash in on a power play to tie things back up. Morrow knocked out Anze Kopitar with a monstrous check in the Dallas zone behind the goal line, and Kings center Mike Richards immediately stepped in to fight Morrow in retaliation.
Richards wound up getting a pair of minor penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct and instigating in the fracas, and Eriksson ultimately took advantage when his pass out front wound up getting knocked in inadvertently by Los Angeles defenseman Willie Mitchell.
“We talked about having to be better on the power play, and we finally got it in there,” Eriksson said. “We got some help from a guy from their team, but we’ll take that.”
Eriksson capped the night with a nifty move from forehand to backhand to collect the shootout winner.
“I was going to fake shoot blocker and just try using my backhand and it worked,” he said. “You see it a lot of times, and a lot of players are doing it. Tonight it worked for me, too.”
“I thought it was a tremendous hockey game,” coach Glen Gulutzan said. “It was really exciting and fast through 65 full minutes. You play a game like this, you can only get better. When you put it on the line and you have some success, you can get some carryover. So it was an important game for us.”
Johnson and Kopitar both had a goal and two assists, and Trevor Lewis also scored for the Kings, who lost for the second time in their last three games. Jonathan Quick, who came in with the fourth-best goals-against average in the league (1.93) and had recorded two shutouts in his last five starts, finished with 34 saves.
The two teams combined for 79 shots, 64 penalty minutes, and 76 hits in the high-energy game where the final numbers certainly told a true story.
“There was some good intensity in the game,” Nystrom said. “Guys were really moving their feet and skating well. That’s a big rival for us, and if you can’t get up for a game like that you’re playing the wrong sport. It was a huge win for us.”
Down by a pair of goals after 20 minutes, the Kings cut the deficit to 2-1 on Kopitar’s power-play goal with 13:44 left in the second. Coasting to the lower slot, he deftly redirected Johnson’s shot from the left point with his backhand.
Goligoski restored the Stars’ two-goal edge 58 seconds later with his fifth of the year. Ryder and Morrow went into the Los Angeles zone on a rush, but rather than feeding Morrow on the right wing, Ryder dropped a pass to the trailing Goligoski, who ripped a slap shot in from the left circle.
The Kings, though, came right back when Lewis scored his first of the year with 10:38 to go in the second. Brad Richardson flipped the puck out of his end, and Nicklas Grossman in turn tried to grab the puck out of mid-air at the red line. But Grossman flubbed on the attempt, and Lewis picked up the loose puck and went in on a breakaway. The center then made a nifty move with a deke on Lehtonen to make it 3-2.
The Stars struck first on Eriksson’s 15th of the season with just under 6 minutes to go in the opening frame. Off a 2-on-2 rush, Tom Wandell’s pass to Eriksson went off of Los Angeles defenseman Slava Voynov’s skate before Eriksson picked it up and rammed it home with a snap shot.
Dallas upped its lead to 2-0 on Nystrom’s 13th just 51 seconds later. From the lower part of the right circle he surged to the net, where Quick blocked the first attempt before Nystrom deposited his own rebound into the net.
The Stars return home for a Saturday afternoon matinee meeting with the Colorado Avalanche at American Airlines Center (2 p.m., FS-SW). The Avalanche lost to Nashville in overtime on Thursday, 3-2.
-- Mike Ribeiro missed his second straight game because of a lower-body injury. Adam Pardy was the healthy scratch.
-- Eriksson has accumulated three two-goal games this season.
-- It was Dallas’ first foray into overtime since a shootout loss to Toronto on Nov. 25.
-- Lehtonen registered his 150th career NHL game.
-- The Stars defeated the Kings for the 102nd time, their most wins against any other team in the NHL.