Stars Refuse To Stay Winless Against Kings
Virtually eliminated from playoff contention for the sixth straight season, the Kings still had more than pride and job security to play for Tuesday night at the Staples Center against the Dallas Stars.
For the first time since 1995-96, they had a chance to earn at least a point in each game against Dallas this season. Unfortunately, in the teams’ final meeting of 2008-09, the Stars prevented the Kings from attaining this feat and salvaging something from what rapidly is becoming a lost season. With the 3-2 setback, the Kings still finished 4-1-1 against the Stars. In 1995-96, they were 0-0-4.
Dallas kept its slim playoff hopes alive behind two-second period power play goals by Brendan Morrison and Marty Turco’s 26 saves. The Stars are in 12 th place in the Western Conference, six points out of the eighth and final playoff berth. The Kings, losing for the 14 th time in 20 tries, are 11 points out in the 13 th spot with six games remaining.
Playing their first game after returning from a 2-3-1 road trip, the Kings came out sluggish and were outshot, 13-8, in the opening period. Mike Ribeiro scored on a pretty wrist shot from behind the Kings’ net to give the visitors’ a quick 1-0 lead at 14:49. The public address announcer had barely finished explaining the goal when Jack Johnson received a pass off a face off from Brad Richardson and beat Turco with a slap shot to tie it up at 17.58. The lead was short lived thanks to Morrison, who scored his first power play goal at 1:55 after receiving a pinpoint pass to the left of goalie Jonathan Quick from Mike Modano. It was Modano’s 30 th assist. Morrison’s 16 th goal of the year came at 15:19 on a slap shot off a post following a pass from Matt Niskanen.
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The Stars (34-33-10) protected their 3-1 margin until center Anze Kopitar scored his 26 th goal on a nifty turnaround wrist shot through traffic with 1:31 left. Derek Armstrong and Sean O’Donnell assisted. The loss not only prevented the Kings (31-34-11) from going undefeated against Dallas and gaining at least a point in each game against their Western Conference rival, it severely hurt their chances of finishing over .500 after the tragedy of last season. LA, which plays four of its last six games at home, amassed 71 points (31-43-7) in 2007-08 and has 73 at present. If the Kings fail to finish with at least as many wins as losses, their offense will be the culprit. Through games of March 31, they were one of only eight teams with less than 200 goals, scoring 193. The loss of leading scorer Alexander Frolov (28 goals) for the past four games has not helped matters.
LA returns to action Thursday night at home against Phoenix.
By Bob Trostler
Los Angeles Kings Correspondent