On Tuesday, March 15, 2016 the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Western Conference-leading Dallas Stars by a final score of 5-2. This was the Kings second road victory in as many nights; they defeated the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks by a score of 5-0 just one night earlier.
There was seemingly no letdown as the Kings now faced the highest-scoring team in the NHL. Conversely, coming into the game, the Kings had allowed the fewest goals in the NHL, thus making this a classic matchup of irresistible force meets immovable object.
As they had done the previous night in Chicago, the Kings scored early and often. Just 23 seconds in, Kings forward Kris Versteeg scored the first goal of the game, on the first shot of the game. At 5:25, Tyler Toffoli took advantage of a miscue by Stars defenseman Kris Russell and scored on a nice give-and-go play with Nick Shore. At this point, the Kings had scored two goals on just five shots.
Dallas then got a bit fortunate. Their first shot on goal was actually an attempted cross ice pass by defenseman Alex Goligoski. The pass, which originated from the faceoff circle in the Kings zone, caromed off the skate of Kings forward Dwight King and went high into the Kings net. The fluky goal at the 8:47 mark, cut the lead to 2-1.
The goal by Goligoski did not do much to change the momentum. As the period wound down, Anze Kopitar took a pass from teammate Milan Lucic and made a nice move to split two Dallas defenders before scoring on a backhand shot from close range. The Kopitar goal at 17:40 gave the Kings a 3-1 lead. The score stood, as the period ended with the Kings having outshot Dallas 10-5.
In the second period, the Kings quickly crushed any hopes of a comeback. The first shot on goal of the period, was Dustin Brown’s 10th goal of the season at 1:07. At this point, Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff had seen enough. He pulled his starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen, who had given up four goals on 11 shots, in favor of Antti Niemi. The Stars were more effective in the second period, but Kings netminder Jhonas Enroth was equal to the task.
Stars forward Cody Eakin did score a power play goal at 6:42, but a little over eight minutes later, Trevor Lewis restored the three-goal cushion. The second period ended with the Kings having been outshot 13-7, but leading 5-2. Dallas then outshot the Kings 8-5 in the final 20 minutes, but there was no more scoring.
Kings notes – The Kings have won four of the last five games, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 20-8. For the season, the Kings have allowed fewer goals than any other NHL team. With 13 games remaining in their regular season, the Kings lead the Pacific division, with 89 points. They have a four-point division lead over the Anaheim Ducks and a five-point lead over the San Jose Sharks, though the Ducks do have one game in hand. In the overall Western Conference playoff picture, the Kings are now just two points behind the Conference-leading Dallas Stars, while also having two games in hand. The Kings closed the gap by going 7-2-1 in the last 10 games, while Dallas went 3-4-3.
March 15, 2016 – LA Kings 5, Dallas Stars 2. Final shots on goal: DAL 26, LAK 22. Power play: DAL 1/3, LAK 0/1. Three Stars of the game: 1) Anze Kopitar – LAK, 2) Rob Scuderi – LAK, 3) Vincent Lecavalier – LAK. Goaltenders: LAK – Jhonas Enroth, DAL – Kari Lehtonen/Antti Niemi.
Kings forward line combinations:
Kings defense pairings:
Stars top line combinations:
Jamie Benn/Cody Eakin/Patrick Eaves
Tyler Seguin/Jason Spezza/Valeri Nichushkin