Kings 4, Dallas Stars 2
Eight keys to the game:
THE FACTS: Rookie forwards Jordan Nolan and Dwight King, recalled from the American Hockey League on Friday to provide a spark for the league’s lowest-scoring team, each scored their first NHL goals Sunday evening at American-Airlines Center in Dallas, lifting the Kings to a much-needed victory in the finale of a six-game road trip .
THE STAT: Andrei Loktionov, another rookie forward for the Kings, scored the second goal of the game. Combined with the goal Loktionov scored in a 2-1 overtime loss Saturday against the Islanders, Kings’ rookies scored four straight goals over the weekend. The last time two Kings scored their first NHL goal in the same game was Oct. 20, 2008 against Colorado (Drew Doughty and Oscar Moller).
TURNING POINT: The Kings blew a two-goal lead when Dallas scored late in the second period and early in the third to tie the score, 2-2, but they didn’t quit. About seven minutes after the Stars tied the score, King kept the puck alive in the offensive zone with a persistent forecheck, then slid it to Mike Richards behind the net. Richards made a beautiful no-look backhand pass to the front of the net, where Nolan was waiting to slap it in for a 3-2 lead with 8:31 left in the game.
HOT: While several other veterans continue to put up zeroes, Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar continue to put up real numbers for the Kings. Williams scored an empty-net goal in the final minute and assisted on King’s first-period goal, giving him 15 points in the last 15 games. Kopitar assisted on King’s goal and Loktionov’s, giving him 14 points in the last 15 games.
NOT: On the eve of his much-publicized Pancakes with Penner fundraiser at a restaurant in the South Bay, one in which fans entered a drawing to eat breakfast with the maligned veteran, Kings left wing Dustin Penner was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game. With the success of Nolan and King so far, Penner might want to consider filling out an application while he’s there.
GOOD MOVE: Whoever made the call to bring up King and Nolan is looking pretty smart. They’ve not only contributed key goals in just their second game with the big club, but seem to have rejuvenated Richards, who has struggled to regain his touch after going down for eight games with a concussion in early December.
BAD MOVE: Kopitar made the mistake of leaving Dallas forward Michael Ryder alone in the slot as he went to triple team Loui Eriksson with the Kings holding a 2-1 lead early in the third period. Eriksson made the pass and Ryder made the shot, scoring his team-leading 21st goal of the season to tie the score.
NOTABLE: The Kings took a season-low 16 shots on goal but scored four or more goals for just the 11th time in 57 games this season ... In their last 82 games when leading after the second period, the Kings improved to 77-0-5. In addition to King and Nolan, two other Kings scored their first NHL goals against the Stars this season, rookie defenseman Slava Voynov and fourth-line enforcer Kevin Westgarth ... The Kings have lost just once this season when leading by at least two goals, Nov. 23 at Dallas in a 3-2 overtime loss. That was the beginning of 14 straight games in which the Kings failed to score at least three goals.
UP NEXT: Thursday vs. the Phoenix Coyotes at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.