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Kings can't make up for lost time in 2-1 loss to Dallas

They start flat, and strong finish isn't enough, as Jack Johnson's penalty shot with 52 seconds left is stopped. It's their eighth loss in 10 games as they fall to 11th place in Western Conference.

January 17, 2011|By Chris Foster
  • Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen blocks a penalty shot by Kings defenseman Jack Johnson in the final minute of the third period of Monday night in Dallas.
Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen blocks a penalty shot by Kings defenseman… (Tim Sharp / Associated Press )

Reporting from Dallas — The Kings provided too many opportunities, then couldn't cash in on the one handed to them.

Once again the search for answers began, after the Dallas Stars held on for a 2-1 victory Monday when goaltender Kari Lehtonen stopped Jack Johnson's penalty shot with 52 seconds left.

Kings Coach Terry Murray said his team lost the "puck possession" struggle. Center Anze Kopitar said the team was "flat" until the final minutes. Johnson was to the point: "I thought I made a good move. He made a better save."

The aftermath was simpler to define. The Kings have lost eight of 10 games and stumbled back to 11th place in the Western Conference, while the Stars solidified their Pacific Division lead.

"We have a young team and, hopefully, we have learned something emotionally from" this streak, Murray said.

Kopitar said the lesson at the American Airlines Center was to show up on time.

"We had a good momentum at the end, but the game was lost 55 minutes before that," Kopitar said.

It was almost salvaged in the last minute.

The Kings were awarded the penalty when Dallas defenseman Jeff Woywitka covered the puck in the goal crease with his hand in a pileup in front of the net. Johnson tried to sweep the puck around the right leg of Lehtonen, who easily stuffed the shot.

"It's a chess match," Johnson said. "I didn't see a lot of net to shoot at, so I tried to deke him. He made the save."

The Kings are now in last place in their division, looking up at not only Dallas but Phoenix, the Ducks and San Jose. Their only victories in the last three weeks have been against Columbus (last in the Central Division) and Edmonton (last in the Northwest Division).

These are moments, forward Ryan Smyth said, in which "you've got to calm everybody down, relax and play hockey. It's a fun game, there is a little pressure at times, but you've got to enjoy it. The veterans on the team have to let the young guys know these streaks happen every season to teams."

They have happened twice this season to the Kings, who started 12-3, then lost seven of eight in November.

"We didn't come to play tonight," Kopitar said.

Goaltender Jonathan Bernier did, stopping 25 of 27 shots. That included seven saves on the Stars' three power plays in the first period.

Dallas had two second-period power plays, giving Brad Richards a chance to display his puck skills.

Loui Eriksson redirected a pass by Richards to tie the score, 1-1, 11:24 into the second period. Richards made another highlight-reel pass, sending the puck across the ice to the far post, where Jamie Langenbrunner tapped it in for a 2-1 lead 16:59 into the period.

Those trumped Justin Williams' first-period goal and left the Kings trying to explain another loss.

chris.foster@latimes.com

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