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HELENE ELLIOTT

Goalie Jonathan Bernier shakes off nerves in a hurry in Kings' win over Stars

The 21-year-old makes 29 saves and holds Dallas without a goal in a six-round shootout.

March 12, 2010|Helene Elliott

Reporting from Dallas — Ignorance can be bliss — and an effective way to keep your blood pressure down during a game that dripped with playoff implications.

Jonathan Bernier made four saves and got help from a post and the crossbar in a six-round shootout to lead the Kings to a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Friday, but not until afterward did Coach Terry Murray realize that his goalie, pressed into service after Jonathan Quick returned to Los Angeles for the birth of his daughter, was 0-5 in shootouts this season with Manchester of the American Hockey League.

"Some things are best not known," Murray said, his comic timing as sharp as Bernier's reflexes were Friday at the American Airlines Center.

Jarret Stoll was the only player to succeed in the shootout, beating Marty Turco with a wrist shot to give the Kings three points on their trip to Chicago and Dallas and lift them into a tie with Phoenix for fourth place in the West.

"Coming in here and getting these two was huge," Stoll said.

Like Murray, Stoll didn't know much about Bernier. The goalie had made his previous four NHL appearances in September and October 2007, before Stoll was acquired by the Kings from Edmonton.

After watching Bernier make 29 saves in regulation and overtime and, in the shootout, coolly stop Brad Richards, Jere Lehtinen, Mike Ribeiro's backhand and Jamie Benn's wrist shot besides getting a toe on the Loui Eriksson shot that went off the post, Stoll knew a lot more about the 21-year-old goalie.

"If he keeps playing like that, geez, he's going to be a good one," Stoll said. "He's just very calm. That's the one thing you can say. He doesn't make any extra movements. He doesn't over-commit. Technically, it looks like he's sound and he's there positionally all the time. Very impressive."

Bernier had allowed 11 shootout goals on 32 attempts playing for Manchester, but he stymied the Stars on Friday with an array of deft pad saves and confident glove stabs. He got a piece of the shot that got past him, a wrist shot from close range by Brenden Morrow at 6:29 of the third period.

That matched the Kings' goal, a power-play deflection by Fredrik Modin of a Dustin Brown shot/pass at 19:25 of the first period.

"I was nervous at first. Only one practice, so I didn't know the timing and stuff," Bernier said. "I felt better when the game was going on, in the second, and I felt much better in the third."

He had that special ability to make the puck stick to him, not allowing rebounds that might have given the Stars life.

"I was seeing the puck pretty good, too," he said. "They had a few tips, but other than that it was straight to my chest from the point, so I just tried to control the rebound."

His teammates did a good job in front of him, too, though they willingly redirected the credit to him.

"He made some great saves out there for us to give us a little extra boost at times," said Modin, who has three goals in five games since the Kings acquired him from Columbus.

"I'm very impressed. He made some huge saves in the shootout as well. Congrats to him."

Bernier returned to Los Angeles with the Kings. Before sending him back to the minors, they want to be sure Quick is ready to face Nashville on Sunday, a game that will start a little more than 48 hours after his wife, Jaclyn, gave birth to Madison Mychal Quick at 4:15 a.m. Friday.

Even if Bernier doesn't get another NHL start this season, Murray knows a lot more about him now.

"He's a very talented young man and he's worked very hard this year to get his game to a good level and having good success," Murray said. "The opportunity and the preparation came together here tonight, and I really like what I saw."

helene.elliott@latimes.com

twitter.com/helenenothelen

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