Los Angeles Hockey: Alex Goligoski

Kings: Playoffs come into focus after win against Stars

April, 2, 2011

LOS ANGELES — With the 3-1 victory Saturday afternoon against the Dallas Stars, the magic number for the Kings to clinch a playoff berth is two. Simply put, if the Anaheim Ducks can beat the slumping Stars in regulation Sunday at Honda Center, the Kings will be headed to the postseason for the second consecutive year.

Does that mean the Kings will be sitting around their hotel in San Jose on Sunday night, wearing their favorite Teemu Selanne sweater?


“No, no, I’m not a Ducks fan,” Kings coach Terry Murray said when asked after the game if he’d be rooting for Anaheim to hand the Stars their seventh consecutive defeat.

The Kings wouldn’t mind taking care of business themselves Monday against the Sharks at HP Pavilion, especially since a win could pull them to within a point of the Pacific Division-leading Sharks -- should San Jose lose in regulation to the visiting Ducks on Saturday night. And besides, nobody wants to meet the Ducks in the playoffs anyway. They might be playing the best hockey of any team in the Western Conference.

“We just have to worry about our own game,” said Kings center Jarret Stoll. “If we get help, that’s not so bad. It is what it is. We just have to keep playing and keep getting some points.”

The win over Dallas was a blueprint for how the Kings will need to proceed without Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, the teams’ leading scorers who were injured last week. Kopitar is lost for the regular season and playoffs because of torn ligaments in his right ankle. Williams is out for at least the regular season because of a dislocated right shoulder.

The Kings earned the first two goals against the Stars by creating havoc in front of the net. Wayne Simmonds tipped in a slap shot from Willie Mitchell to give the Kings a 1-0 lead in the second period, and Matt Greene banked in a slap shot off the skate of Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski while he battled for position with Kings rookie Kyle Clifford, giving the Kings a 2-1 lead with about seven minutes remaining in regulation.

That allowed the Kings to pack in their defense around goalkeeper Jonathan Quick.

“We have to play well defensively, check really well, be smart, take advantage of our opportunities,” Stoll said. “We have great goaltending, great defense. Just get the puck up, go north and get on the forecheck, get on the cycle and we can create some chances.”

Play that style, the Kings believe, and they won’t need to root for another team.

“We want to keep clapping,” Greene said. “We want to be playing our best hockey going into the playoffs and that means winning games and winning close games.”

Ducks: Selanne, Fowler salvage another overtime victory

March, 23, 2011
Ducks 4, Dallas Stars 3 (OT)

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: Teemu Selanne tied the score with 6.4 seconds remaining in regulation at American Airlines Center in Dallas and rookie defenseman Cam Fowler won it 1:42 into overtime on a pass from Bobby Ryan for Anaheim's league-leading 26th one-goal victory.

THE STAT: The Ducks won in overtime for the third straight game and fifth in the last 10. They have won 13 out of 18 games that have gone to overtime or shootout this season.

TURNING POINT: After the Stars took a 3-2 lead with 6:39 remaining in the game, the Ducks pulled goalkeeper Ray Emery with about a minute left. Anaheim got a fortuitous bounce off a referee in their offensive zone and the puck came to Saku Koivu, who worked his way into the middle. Koivu was nudged off the puck, but it continued toward Selanne who had room to slam the puck into the net.

HOT: In the opening five minutes of the third period, Ducks forward Corey Perry tied the score, 2-2, after the Stars had taken a 2-1 lead 11 seconds earlier. It was Perry’s ninth goal in the last seven games and 40thoverall, joining Selanne (five times) and Paul Kariya (three) as the only Ducks to score at least 40 in a season.

NOT: Alex Goligoski scored the first goal for Dallas, but also had five giveaways, a two-minute delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass and was a minus-two for the game.

GOOD MOVE: Fowler set up his third winner of the season with a takeaway in his defensive zone. He quickly passed the puck over to Ryan and then sped to the net for a 2-on-1. Ryan picked the perfect moment to slide the puck over to Fowler and he flicked it past Dallas goalkeeper Kari Lehtonen, keeping the Ducks in eighth place in the Western Conference standings.

BAD MOVE: Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin had a costly turnover in his offensive zone that led to the goal by Dallas late in the third period, giving them a 3-2 lead that nearly held up until the end.

NOTABLE: Perry is the first NHL player in five years to rack up at least 40 goals and 100 penalty minutes. The last player to achieve those numbers was Brendan Shanahan of the Red Wings in 2005-06.

UP NEXT: Thursday at Nashville, 5 p.m.

Kings: Handzus hands Dallas a 3-2 loss

March, 13, 2011
Kings 3, Dallas Stars 2

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: Michael Handzus took a pass from Alexei Ponikarovsky and scored the winner with 20.8 seconds remaining at American Airlines Center in Dallas, moving the Kings from eighth to fourth in the Western Conference standings.

THE STAT: The Kings have won four straight road games and are 10-1-3 in their last 14 games away from Staples Center.

TURNING POINT: After the Stars tied the score with 43 seconds remaining in the game, the Kings answered. Willie Mitchell's slap shot missed the mark, but Wayne Simmonds swept the puck out from behind net. Ponikarovsky pounced on the rubber and slid it to Handzus, who redirected the puck into the net.

HOT: It wasn’t long ago that Ponikarovsky was chided for his poor, lackluster play. Much of his contributions don’t show up in the box score because Ponikarovsky does a lot of the dirty work. He received an assist and screened Dallas goalkeeper Kari Lehtonen on Drew Doughty's first-period power-play goal. Ponikarovsky scored the winner in a 2-1 victory Wednesday in Detroit.

NOT: Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi was a minus-two with no blocked shots, hits or shots on goal, but he did tally a giveaway. The Jarret Stoll-Dustin Brown-Ryan Smyth line was also on the ice for both Dallas goals but none of the Kings.

GOOD MOVE: The top line of Anze Kopitar, Dustin Penner and Justin Williams scored an impressive goal to give the Kings a 2-0 lead in the second period. Kopitar made a picture-perfect pass to a wide open Penner in front of the net. Penner tapped in the goal for his second as a member of the Kings and fifth straight game with a point.

BAD MOVE: The Stars tied the score late in regulation after pulling Lehtonen for a man-advantage. Alex Goligoski took a shot at Kings goalkeeper Jonathan Quick, who made the save but lost track of the rebound, allowing Jamie Langenbrunner to sweep in and knock the puck nto the net.

NOTABLE: The Kings improved to 39-25-5 on the season. They were 40-24-5 after 69 games last season and went 6-3-4 down the stretch to finish sixth in the West.

UP NEXT: Tuesday at Nashville, 5 p.m. PT.

Kings: Kopitar's assist ties him for 12th on team's all-time points list

March, 7, 2011
After the 2nd period:

King 2, Dallas Stars 1

The good: The Anze Kopitar-Dustin Penner-Justin Williams line strikes again. This time it started with Kopitar winning a face off in the Kings’ defensive zone. The puck came to Penner who quickly fed it to Williams who had open ice in front of him. Williams let go of a shot behind his own blue line. Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen stopped the relatively simple shot but didn’t control the rebound and it came out long. Williams used his speed to beat defenseman Jeff Woywitka to the puck. Lehtonen saved the second shot but Williams again got the rebound and this time tucked it into the net for a 2-1 lead 7:22 into the period. Kopitar got his second assist of the game, tying him for 12thon the all-time Kings’ point list, and Penner earned his first as a member of the Kings.

The bad: The Kings were on the power play the first 2:45 of the period and were still out-shot by the Stars, 2-0. The Kings went right back on the power play 15 seconds later and failed to score again. That seemed to give the Stars a boost as they scored less than two minutes later to tie the score, 1-1. Alex Goligoski brought the puck up ice, passed to his right to Adam Burish, who passed to his right to Mike Ribeiro, who scored on the Stars’ eighth shot of the game. Ribeiro was probably relieved to get the puck by goalie Jonathan Bernier after getting robbed of a sure goal in the first period.

The in between: Dallas has just 12 shots on goal but the Stars are right in this game. The Kings need a win in regulation to overtake them for seventh in the Western Conference standings.