Dallas with a touchdown, Kings with a safety, Erik Ersberg back to Earth. Here’s the AP story, complete with quotes…
The way the Dallas Stars were struggling, another loss to the downtrodden Los Angeles Kings would’ve forced them to work even harder to nail down a playoff berth.
After a big offensive outburst, now they’ve got some momentum to take into the final four games of the regular season.
Loui Eriksson scored twice less than 3 1/2 minutes apart during a four-goal second period, defenseman Stephane Robidas had a goal and two assists, and the Stars connected three times on power plays to rout the Kings 7-2 on Saturday.
The victory was only the Stars’ second in 10 games, a stretch that included a 4-2 loss to the Kings at Dallas.
“This is something to build on, and we need more of the same. We’re in a lockdown mode,” goaltender Marty Turco said. “The beauty of the whole game was not the score, but how the game went down – just the relentlessness of every period and every facet of the game. It’s great to see. But that’s what we expect, really. Today was a great example of what we need to do every shift from now on.”
Eriksson, Robidas and Brenden Morrow all scored with the man advantage. Stu Barnes, Jere Lehtinen and Niklas Hagman also had goals and Mike Ribeiro had three assists for the Stars, who earned a split of the eight-game season series after winning all eight meetings with the Kings last season.
“It was a heck of a series and it was hard-fought all year long,” Barnes said. “They’ve got some very dangerous players on that team. But obviously, we needed the win to stay in the playoff race and get our game in shape.”
Kevin Dallman and Michael Cammalleri scored for the Kings, who were outshot 35-14.
“Our team hit a wall today,” coach Marc Crawford said. “You’re playing against a team that is desperate, and that’s what happens when those two paths cross. You never want to play like that in front of your fans, but we ran out of gas. We squeezed a lot out of our team, playing three games in 3 1/2 days.”
The Kings (31-41-7) began the day tied with Tampa Bay for the fewest points in the league standings. The only time they finished a season with the league’s worst record was in 1969-70. Dallas coach Dave Tippett, who was an assistant coach with Los Angeles, has empathy for the organization that prepared him for his first head coaching job in the NHL.
“That organization treated me very well, so hopefully they can get it turned around and get it going in the right direction,” Tippett said. “The year we went to the playoffs, this was a very enjoyable place to be. I don’t know what’s transpired in-between, but obviously they’re in a rebuilding mode right now.”
Dallas outshot Los Angeles 16-3 during the second period, grabbing a 2-1 lead just 16 seconds after the first intermission. Barnes chipped the puck past defenseman Tom Preissing at the Kings’ blue line and attempted a centering pass for Steve Ott that caromed off Dallman’s skate and into the net.
Morrow added his 31st goal about 6 minutes later, extending his goal-scoring streak to four games while Raitis Ivanans was serving an interference penalty.
“The reality of it is that they don’t have much to play for,” Turco said. “I mean, they’re a talented team so you’ve got to be super-cautious against them. But when guys are playing that hard and that intense and that focused like we did, it’s pretty hard for the other team to generate much.”
Eriksson made it 4-1 midway through the second while Scott Thornton was serving a double-minor for high-sticking. Eriksson got his second of the game and 14th of the season at 13:53 of the period.
“We need every point we can get, so we had to play it like a playoff game,” Eriksson said.
Ersberg, who beat Phoenix 4-0 on Thursday night for his second NHL shutout, didn’t have to stop a shot the during the first 8 1/2 minutes against Dallas. But the Stars tied it at 13:29 of the opening period on Robidas’ first goal in 31 career games against the Kings.
Notes: Daniel Taylor made his NHL debut, replacing Ersberg after two periods and becoming the 11th goalie the Kings have used since the start of last season. He surrendered Lehtinen’s goal on Dallas’ first shot against him. … Dallas D Mattias Norstrom, who spent parts of 11 seasons with the Kings and was their captain for the previous five, will play in his 900th NHL regular-season game Sunday at Anaheim. … Richards had two assists, giving him 500 career points in the NHL. … Kings C Patrick O’Sullivan, who has 20 goals in his first full NHL season, played in all eight games against the Stars without one.