DALLAS (AP) – Brad Richardson and Justin Williams scored third-period goals just over a minute apart to help lift the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Sunday night.
Jeff Carter also scored his 20th goal of the season for Los Angeles, which has lost just once in regulation in Dallas in its last 14 visits (11-1-2) and outshot the Stars 40-15.
Richardson’s goal was particularly impressive, since the fourth-liner was playing his first game since Feb. 10 and third of the season overall after sitting out as a healthy scratch the other 32 contests. Jonathan Bernier needed to make just 15 saves for the Kings, and remained unbeaten — 8-0-0 in his starts this season.
Jamie Benn and Ray Whitney scored for Dallas, which had won both previous meetings between the Pacific Division rivals this season by a combined score of 7-2. Kari Lehtonen made 37 saves in his 14th consecutive start.
Whitney’s goal came on the power play, which Dallas has converted on six of its last 15 opportunities over the past four games.
The Kings, coming off a 4-3 shootout loss in Minnesota on Saturday, remained unbeaten in regulation after four stops on a five-game road trip (3-0-1).
Despite controlling much of the action and outshooting Dallas 34-9 by the five-minute mark of the final period, the Kings were still tied 1-1, but two goals within a span of 1:09 propelled them to a 3-1 lead.
First, Richardson notched his first goal in exactly one calendar year at 5:40 of the third when he recovered a loose puck following a Dallas defensive zone turnover and lifted a quick snap shot over Lehtonen’s blocker.
Williams’ seventh goal of the season came just 69 seconds later when he managed to nudge his own rebound home from the edge of the crease after Lehtonen denied his point-blank one-timer.
The Stars’ strong power-play unit pulled them to within one at 11:04 of the third when Whitney’s booming slap shot from the right point whizzed past a screened Bernier for his seventh goal.
Dallas’ attempted comeback did not get much traction after that, though, and never seriously threatened again, not even for the final 57 seconds, when Lehtonen was pulled for an extra attacker.
The Kings were dominating play on the ice, controlling the puck and outshooting Dallas 21-4 when Benn scored on the Stars’ first shot of the second period to tie it at 1 at 13:16. Just 47 seconds after Lehtonen made a sparkling pad save on Richardson’s point-blank wrister, Benn received a long, incisive pass from Alex Goligoski at the Los Angeles blue line, swooped around King defenseman Slava Voynov and in on a breakaway. Then, he slid a nifty backhand deke between Bernier’s pads for his eighth goal of the season.
The Kings pushed right back, forcing Lehtonen to make big saves on Mike Richards’ one-timer from the slot just 21 seconds later and on Anze Kopitar’s wrister from the left face-off circle 27 seconds after that.
The Kings took a 1-0 lead on the first shift, thanks to a fortuitous bounce that resulted in Carter’s 20th goal of the season. After Dustin Penner knocked Stephane Robidas off the puck in the left corner, Carter grabbed the puck and shoveled a harmless-looking backhander that re-directed off the skate of Dallas’ Brenden Dillon and sailed over Lehtonen’s shoulder just 25 seconds into the opening period.
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