LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Drew Doughty only scored because the puck got away from him near the Dallas net, turning an attempted pass into a low, slow shot that somehow trickled past Dan Ellis.
While the Los Angeles Kings work to re-establish their reputation as a tenacious home team, they’ll also take all the breaks they can get.
Doughty scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period, and Justin Williams had two goals and an assist in the Kings’ 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.
Kyle Clifford added a third-period goal, and Matt Greene scored a deflected empty-net goal from deep in the Kings’ end with 29 seconds to play. Anze Kopitar had three assists in Los Angeles’ return to Staples Center after going 3-1-0 on a four-game trip.
The Kings were solid in just their third home game this season. With eight of their next nine games in downtown Los Angeles, they’re hoping to make some progress in the tough Pacific Division.
“What we need to do is find our identity again,” Williams said. “When it’s a tie game or we’re down a goal, we need to feel like we’re going to win. The things we did in the first two periods tonight finally paid off.”
Jonathan Quick made 27 saves for Los Angeles, which has won five of six overall. Doughty had a goal and an assist, and Jake Muzzin added two assists in his return to the Los Angeles lineup after five games as a healthy scratch.
Doughty scored just his second goal of the season with 15:18 to play. The $56 million defenceman hadn’t scored a point in seven straight games since the season opener, but he easily leads the Kings in ice time with more than 25 minutes per game.
“I didn’t think it was going to go in, but I’ve been getting a lot of good chances on the rush,” Doughty said. “The third period is when we want to be good. We want to create that identity at home.”
Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley scored for the Stars, who have lost three of four. Ellis stopped 29 shots in his fourth straight start in place of injured starter Kari Lehtonen, but gave up two regrettable goals in the third period before Greene’s empty-netter.
“Even at the start of the third before we got scored against, we had a few shifts where we were real good,” Dallas coach Lindy Ruff said. “We just need to become a team that can hold it together a little bit longer, and we have to eliminate some of the big turnovers. Some of them were inexcusable. Those decisions are the ones that have hurt us, especially on the road, and that gives the other team some momentum.”
After Doughty’s goal put the Stars in trouble, Clifford doubled the Kings’ lead with 6:58 to play, getting his first point of the season on a long wrist shot that handcuffed Ellis.
The Kings only scored six goals on their trip, but they know all about grinding out victories after two straight seasons of major playoff success despite a modest offensive attack. None of Los Angeles’ regular centres has even scored a goal through nine games this season—not Kopitar, not Mike Richards, not Jarret Stoll.
But after earning two shootout victories on the trip, Los Angeles returned home with more than enough offence to beat the Stars, who knocked off previously unbeaten San Jose in their last game.
“We gave ourselves a chance to win, but didn’t bring it in the third,” said Dallas captain Jamie Benn, who had two assists. “We had some good shifts and some bad ones, but you have to have a good shift every time. We can’t give up goals, and we have to capitalize on our power plays. We’ve got to learn from our mistakes and move on.”
After Seguin extended his points streak to six games with a goal midway through the first period, Williams scored twice in a 3:01 span late in the period. He got credit for the Kings’ first goal when Jake Muzzin’s long shot deflected off his skate in front.
Williams then flipped home a backhand over the glove of a prone Ellis during a power play with 27 seconds left in the period. Los Angeles didn’t score a power-play goal during its entire four-game road trip, going 0 for 13.
Peverley tied it midway through the second period when Benn took the puck around the back of the Los Angeles net. His shot banked off Quick’s pads to the far side, where Peverley easily converted the rebound for his second goal in a Dallas uniform.
NOTES: Los Angeles scratched F Matt Frattin and D Alec Martinez, altering the lineup used on the road. Colin Fraser and Muzzin were active. Frattin has three assists and a minus-5 rating in his first eight games with the Kings. … Ellis stopped a breakaway by Richards early in the second period. … Kopitar, the Kings’ leading scorer in each of the last six seasons, has no goals, but leads the club with eight assists.