LOS ANGELES--It’s only November, but playoff-style hockey has returned to Staples Center.
The Kings survived another physical challenge from the visitors Thursday night and once again matched their opponent blow for blow until finishing on top for their fifth straight win, 3-1, against the Dallas Stars.
With their seventh consecutive victory on their own ice to start the season, the Kings (11-3-0) matched their longest home winning streak to start the season. The 22 points they’ve amassed through 14 games also ties a club record.
They had to do it the hard way, as the Stars came in having lost 13 of the last 16 meetings against the Kings and apparently holding a grudge. The Kings didn’t back down, however.
“We’ve got a big, strong team that can answer the bell when things like that happen,” said Kings right wing Dustin Brown. “I think we’re pretty good when it’s physical like that.”
The tone was set in the first period, when Dallas left wing James Neal crashed into Kings second-line center Jarret Stoll in his own defensive end, dropping Stoll to his knees and elbows. Kings veteran defenseman Matt Greene immediately dropped his gloves and pounced on Neal, earning him 17 minutes worth of penalties.
“We’re playing a lot of teams that are really battling for points,” said Greene, his lip swollen and his face scratched. “Nothing’s going to be easy.”
The Kings would survive that power play, as well as four others, improving their penalty-kill mark to 49 of 52 on the season, including 28 of 28 at home. They’ve also killed 19 straight man-advantage situations by their opponents.
With the score tied, 1-1, heading into the second period, Kings rookie forward Kyle Clifford showed he's an asset in a physical game, dropping Brandon Segal on his back with a straight right and following up with two more blows as Segal lay on his back.
After a second-period goal by Stoll was taken away on a goalkeeper interference penalty against linemate Justin Williams, the intensity picked up a notch and Kings defenseman Davis Drewiske took on Steve Ott, putting both in the penalty box and leaving the Kings with just four defenseman for a stretch.
Williams broke the 1-1 tie with a power-play goal early in the third, which seemed to push Dallas over the edge. Both teams combined for 37 penalty minutes over the final 11 ½ minutes.
Following a five-minute major boarding penalty called on Ott after he dropped Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, the Kings took their final two-goal lead on a power-play goal by Jack Johnson, his first of the season.
“Teams are really going the extra mile trying to beat us,” Johnson said. “They know we’re playing well so we’re not sneaking up on anybody.”