LOS ANGELES – Dustin Brown came up with a goal and a couple of big hits for the Los Angeles Kings, including one that drew the ire of Dallas captain Brenden Morrow.
Alexander Frolov scored in the fifth round of a shootout, Jarret Stoll had a power-play goal in his 300th NHL game and the Kings beat the Stars 3-2 on Tuesday night in the opener of a home-and-home set that concludes Thursday at Dallas.
Brown, who led the NHL last season with 311 hits, administered the check of the game with about 12 minutes left in the second period. He lined up Stephane Robidas perfectly and sent him head-over-heels into the Kings’ bench as the crowd of 13,823 roared its approval.
But the Kings captain went too far with a minute left in regulation. Brown received a five-minute boarding penalty and a game misconduct for checking Mike Ribeiro into the boards after the Dallas centre took a slap slot from the right point that left him off balance on the follow-through.
“It was a tough situation. Our guy was making a shot and was off balance. It wasn’t a dirty hit at all,” Stars goaltender Marty Turco said. “Brown’s one of the most solid guys in the league, and he knows he can hurt some guys. But that was a clean hit. I don’t think he meant to hurt him, but it’s always dangerous when you’re a few feet from the boards and you’re in a vulnerable position.”
Ribeiro received a cut on his head and wasn’t able to get back on his feet for a few moments. Morrow then initiated a fight with Brown that resulted in an instigator penalty and a game misconduct for Morrow. Kings backup Erik Ersberg made three of his 17 saves during the ensuing three-minute power play.
“I don’t expect anything,” Morrow said of a possible suspension. “I’d be a little disappointed with the league. It’s an opportunity to police ourselves. Mike’s our most skilled player, and he was in a vulnerable position when he got hit.
“I’m not sure if the penalty (against Brown) would have been five minutes had I not done that. I didn’t know how bad he was hurt, so I’ve got no regrets about what happened. I think if something’s to be reviewed, I’d say it would be the hit (by Brown) and not the fight.”
Ribeiro scored on the Stars’ third shot of the tiebreaker to tie it at one apiece, but Frolov came straight in on Turco and put it through the pads. Ersberg stopped Mike Modano at the other end to give the Kings their third straight victory.
“He played well, obviously,” coach Terry Murray said. “You have to get some stops in those situations against the top scorers in the game, and he came up pretty large for us. It was a very important game for us, when you can come out with a shootout win like that”
Stars right-wing Jere Lehtinen scored in his season debut after missing the first 14 games because of a groin injury, and Modano had his 533rd career goal after going six games without a goal or an assist.
The Kings took a 2-1 lead at 16:46 of the first after Krys Barch coughed up the puck to Brown in the Dallas zone. Anze Kopitar’s slap shot from the slot knocked defenceman Sergei Zubov’s stick out of his hands and the puck caromed to Brown, whose wrist shot from the left circle banked into the net off Turco’s left leg pad while the goalie was still on his knees.
Dallas got the equalizer at 9:46 of the second on a sharp-angle shot from the right circle by Modano with Ersberg out of position. Modano has 37 goals and 84 points in 82 career games against the Kings.
Just 17 seconds after a bench minor was called against the Stars for having too many men on the ice in the first, Modano was sent off for tripping Brown. Stoll scored 10 seconds later on a one-timer from the right circle that deflected off Steve Ott and past Turco’s glove. It was his first goal in 17 career games against Dallas.
The Stars tied it at 14:17 of the opening period. Ott fanned on Brad Richards’ short pass from behind the net, but Lehtinen was trailing the play and one-timed it past Ersberg from the left circle. Lehtinen had his first full practice on Monday, and coach Dave Tippett decided he was healthy enough to play after watching him go through the morning skate.
“From my perspective, it’s awesome to see Jere Lehtinen back out there,” Turco said. “You can just see him playing robotic, perfect defensive hockey out there. And the kind of hockey we want to play, he emulates it to a T.”
Lehtinen, who won the Selke Trophy three times as the NHL’s top defensive forward, was limited to 48 games last season because of a sports hernia. He was on the ice for 20 minutes, had two shots on net and was a plus-1 for the night.
Notes: Sean Avery, who spent parts of four seasons with the Kings and had 99 points in 218 games, played against them for the first time since signing with Dallas as a free agent in July. … The Stars were 12-2-2 against the Kings over the previous two seasons, including an eight-game sweep in 2006-07. … Dallas was 0-for-4 on the power play and is 2-for-24 over the last five games. … The Kings were 3-2-2 on their longest homestand of the season.