This goaltending duel started off rather quietly.
Then, with time, it gradually got better and hit another level by the start of the third period in the Dallas Stars' eventual 2-0 victory against the Kings at Staples Center. The way Kings goalie Jonathan Quick and his Stars counterpart Kari Lehtonen were playing, it looked as if a fluke moment might decide Thursday's game.
How about a combination of individual brilliance and a deflection off a skate?
Dallas received both in the form of legendary goal-scorer Jaromir Jagr's backhander that went off the skate of Kings defenseman Drew Doughty past Quick, at 6 minutes 34 seconds of the third period.
The Stars scored twice in the span of 4:22 in the third, and continued to mystify the Kings at Staples Center. The Kings have lost twice in their last 13 games at home, both times to the Stars.
Also, it was the second time that the Kings — who suffered their first loss at home in six games — have been shut out this season. The other time was at Nashville on Feb. 7.
Lehtonen, who faced 40 shots, had to be sharp early and often in recording his 22nd career shutout. The Kings had 30 shots through the first 40 minutes.
A goal by the 41-year-old Jagr was all the Stars, allegedly a road-weary team, needed to break open what had been a scoreless game. Dallas played on Wednesday night at Colorado and, in fact, played a much stronger, more energized game after about the first period and a half.
The Stars doubled their lead midway through the third when 40-year-old Ray Whitney converted a three-on-two attack, beating Quick with a one-timer from the left circle. His shot found just enough space between the post and Quick's right leg.
"Lehtonen played well but we've got to find a way to score," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "We had our chances, gotta bear down. But again, we've just got to refocus.
"There's areas where we can be better. He played a very good game for them. It's up to our top guys ... that's when we're expected to find a big goal. A matter of finding a way to get it done."
Said Kings forward Kyle Clifford: "We had our chances and a couple of times [Lehtonen] was looking backward, and he might have thought they went in. A few, I think, he got lucky on and we just didn't get a break."
Again, it was a Dallas-dominated third period, just the way it was when the Stars beat the Kings here on March 7, scoring three times in the third. This time, they looked flat early as the Kings dominated.
Gradually, Dallas came to life. In the second period, Quick made saves on a wide-open Cody Eakin and later on Brenden Morrow. Quick had to be at his best early in the third period with the Stars on the power play, making a terrific glove save on defenseman Trevor Daley, who was set up by Jagr.
Traditionally, champions in the major sports pay a visit to the president, and the Kings and Galaxy get their chance next week when they visit President Obama at the White House on Tuesday.
After the ceremony, the teams will host a clinic on the South Lawn of the White House for youth sport participants from across the country. The trip to the White House will come in the midst of a Kings' trip next week, one day after they face the league-leading Blackhawks at Chicago. Kings Coach Darryl Sutter, who played in Chicago and coached the Blackhawks, can talk about all things Chicago with Obama.
Sutter also has another topic in mind. He said he wanted to ask the president about the Keystone XL Pipeline project, which, if approved, would run from Canada to Texas, starting in Alberta.