Ownership of the third period at home finally got away from the Kings, wrested away from their tight grasp and eventually eluding them.
With that, a long winning streak at Staples Center came to a halt at the hands of Dallas. The Stars scored the game's final four goals, including three in the third period to secure a 5-2 victory against the Kings on Thursday night, handing them their first loss at home in seven games.
The Kings have been so dominant in the third period at home, it seemed as though they just needed to flick a switch to get it done in the latter stages. In their last nine games overall, they had given up two third-period goals, one of them an empty-netter.
Dallas surpassed that with three in the third — including an empty-netter — starting with a goal by captain Brenden Morrow, who was left alone at the right post and managed to score when it looked like he almost fanned on the puck. But Morrow got just enough on it to get it past Jonathan Quick at 5:16.
Morrow's goal made it 3-2 and the Stars went ahead by two when 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr scored on a rebound. Jamie Benn's initial shot went off Quick's pad, right to a wide-open Jagr. It was the second goal of the game for Jagr, who had scored on the power play in the first period, making it 1-0 for Dallas at 5:28.
"That big line of Benn, [Loui] Eriksson and Jagr found ways to get behind our [defense], our five-, six-man unit and found a way to get goals," said Kings captain Dustin Brown.
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter agreed: "We couldn't handle the Benn line. Nobody answered, took responsibility. Goalie, defense and forwards. We couldn't handle that line."
This also begged an obvious question. Did the Kings simply run out of energy, having played three games in four nights?
"I know it's a heavy schedule, but so is an 82-game schedule," Brown said. "We had 2-2 going into the third. We needed a better start to the third, probably. We didn't really go after it in the first five [minutes] and they get that goal.
"Now we're chasing the game from there. We've got to come out better in the third."
Trevor Lewis scored the Kings' first goal, converting from a sharp angle and hitting the upper right corner in the first period. The other Kings' goal came from a predictable source, the high-scoring Jeff Carter, who got some help from the skate of Stars defenseman Jordie Benn.
Carter picked up his 16th of the season, making it 2-1 at 15:30 of the second period. But the Stars pulled even by the end of the second on another power-play goal.
With defenseman Keaton Ellerby off for hooking, Cody Eakin scored with 1:14 left in the period, shooting up the middle and surprising Quick with a backhander after Alec Martinez had trouble with a clearing attempt.
Eakin's goal took away the Kings' momentum, which had carried through most of the period. But they simply could not build on Carter's goal.
Carter is seemingly doing almost all the heavy lifting in terms of offense.
The Kings have 62 goals this season and Carter is responsible for 16 of them.
Sutter bypassed poetic and went right to short, sweet and straightforward earlier in the day to describe Carter's recent output. "He's money," Sutter said.