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Kings fall to the Stars for third consecutive loss

There's some concern about goalkeeper Jonathan Quick, who was so sharp before the Olympics but might be showing signs of fatigue.

March 27, 2010|By Robyn Norwood

The Kings are inching closer to reaching the postseason for the first time since 2002.

But looking as if they'll make the playoffs and looking like a playoff team are not the same thing, and there were plenty of problems in their 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Saturday at Staples Center.

The Kings have lost three games in a row and five of their last seven.

Even so, Calgary lost earlier Saturday, leaving the Kings with a magic number of eight points and eight games to play. Calgary has seven left.

The Kings spent too much time in the penalty box against Dallas, giving up four power-play goals to a team they had beaten five times in five meetings this season.

Nor did the offense they have been searching for materialize, even though Coach Terry Murray reunited the big line of Ryan Smyth, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams.

The Kings got three power-play opportunities in the first period and made good on one, when Michal Handzus swept a rebound into the net at 15:52 with Jamie Benn in the penalty box for roughing after punching the Kings' Dustin Brown in the face, drawing blood.

But the Kings had to try to fend off a Dallas five-on-three opportunity late in the first that carried over into the second after Wayne Simmonds was sent off for tripping and Sean O'Donnell joined him after an interference call.

Seventeen seconds into the second period, the Stars' Brenden Morrow scored on a tic-tac-toe play from Stephane Robidas to Mike Ribeiro to Morrow with Dallas still holding a two-man advantage.

Less than five minutes into the second, Dallas led, 2-1, after another power-play goal when Brad Richards' shot caromed at an angle off the skate of Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi past all-but-helpless Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick at 4:20.

The Dallas lead grew to 3-1 at the 9:15 mark on Richards' second power-play goal of the game, this time a four-on-three chance for Dallas after Handzus went off for goaltender interference during a power-play opportunity and was followed by Drew Doughty, who was penalized for tripping.

Dallas made it 4-1 only 48 seconds into the third on yet another power-play goal, this one by Steve Ott with Smyth still off for interference late in the second period.

It's hard to pinpoint what the Kings' biggest concern should be. The specialty teams struggled, the offense wasn't potent, and there remains concern that goaltender Jonathan Quick hasn't been as sharp since the Olympic break, though it was hard to fault him on power-play goals.

Murray, looking for more offense, reunited the line of Smyth, Kopitar and Williams to start the game, saying that with the regular season winding down, "it's time to see it come together."

"They've had, obviously, some great success together this year," Murray said. "I took them apart a few games ago because of not working hard for each other. I didn't think the line in general was on top of their game and not enough desperation. Now I'm hoping the time apart has brought that work ethic out.

"This was a premier line in the league at the start of the year. Unfortunately [injuries] happen, but that's the way it goes in hockey. Now it's time to elevate games. Again, the veterans need to really step up that intensity, that tenacity that is expected this time of year. This is their opportunity."

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