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No lead is safe as Kings lose to the Stars

L.A. takes a one-goal edge three times only to see Dallas come back for a 4-3 win.

March 07, 2011|By Chris Foster
  • Kings right wing Justin Williams gets a shot past Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen in the second period Monday night at the Staples Center.
Kings right wing Justin Williams gets a shot past Stars goaltender Kari… (Kirby Lee / US Presswire )

The now-we're moving, now-we're-not pendulum took a few more wild swings for the Kings at Staples Center on Monday.

They had the lead, they lost it against the Dallas Stars. They repeated that twice, and were forced into overtime, where they lost, 4-3, when Brenden Morrow scored 38 seconds into the extra session.

The bright side to this kind of stress?

"It gets you ready for big games right away, you know," Kings defenseman Matt Greene said. "All these points right now are real tight. Everybody will be playoff-ready when the time comes."

Provided you get there.

The Kings still have eight games with teams that are within four points of each other in the Western Conference standings. That includes Dallas and Nashville on the back end of a four-game trip that begins in Detroit on Wednesday night.

Dallas was playing its 10th consecutive game without leading scorer Brad Richards, who has a concussion. Still, the Stars had managed points in their last five games before Monday, going 4-0-1. That run included victories over Detroit and San Jose.

How the race is going was on display during Monday's game.

The Kings blew one-goal leads three times, the last when defenseman Drew Doughty turned the puck over on a power play and the Stars' Jamie Benn raced up ice to tie the score, 3-3.

Nearly every game has resulted in either elation or agony with the tightness of the race.

"It's tight, a lot of three-point games," Greene said. "That's why the league loves it. There are a lot of teams in it, where as in years past there would have been some separation. Now you've got 12 teams fighting for the playoffs."

Vancouver and Detroit are locks, with San Jose and Chicago starting to get some separation. That leaves seven teams scrapping for four spots.

It can become good prep work for the playoffs.

"I have been through this kind of scenario before and you get accustomed to the hectic pace that is there in the playoffs," Kings Coach Terry Murray said. "You know how important every game and every situation becomes."

Kyle Clifford gave the Kings a 3-2 lead 2 minutes 41 seconds into the third period, scoring 44 seconds after the Stars' Trevor Daley had tied it at 2-2.

Justin Williams, who picked up his 400th NHL point assisting on Willie Mitchell's first-period goal, gave the Kings a 2-1 lead with a little playoff-like effort.

Williams fired a shot on goal from the neutral zone, then beat two Dallas players to the rebound. He got off three more tries, slipping the last past goaltender Kari Lehtonen for a 2-1 lead seven minutes into the second period.

Lehtonen prevented the Kings from building on a 1-0 lead in the second period, making five saves on quality chances during a power play. His efforts paid off when Mike Ribeiro tied the score, finishing off a tic-tac-toe three-on-two rush.

Mitchell game the Kings a 1-0 lead eight minutes into the game with a shot from the blue line.

The Kings were effective limiting opportunities through two periods. The Stars had 12 shots heading into the third period.

chris.foster@latimes.com

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