LOS ANGELES – Marty Turco and the Dallas Stars have plenty of unpleasant memories regarding their recent visits to Staples Center, and the Los Angeles Kings gave them another one to kick themselves about.
Michal Handzus scored his third goal of the game at 1:31 of overtime, capping his second career hat trick and rallying the Kings to a 5-4 victory over the Stars after they overcame a three-goal deficit.
“When we are down by three goals, then we start playing our game,” Handzus said. “We start skating and putting pucks at the net, and you see what happened. We scored goals. We got a couple of lucky bounces, but it’s all about putting the puck in the net. That’s what we have to do for 60 minutes to win more games, and that’s been our problem.”
Anze Kopitar tied it with 14 seconds left, playing the puck off a broken stick left behind by teammate Dustin Brown and backhanding it toward the net. It caromed off the Dallas defenceman Stephane Robidas’ skate and past Turco for Kopitar’s 22nd goal.
“To be honest, I didn’t know how much time was left on the clock,” Kopitar said. “All I was thinking about was turning and throwing it right in front of the net and hoping there would be a scrum. Luckily, it went off the guy and through Turco’s legs.”
Kopitar also had two assists, Alexander Frolov had a goal and an assist, and Drew Doughty added two assists. It was the first time the Kings won after trailing by three goals since Nov. 10, 2007, when they overcame a 4-0 deficit against Dallas in the third period at Staples Center and beat Turco 6-5 in OT.
“We were down a couple of men for a long period of time,” said Turco, who had made 35 consecutive starts before sitting out Tuesday’s 4-1 win at San Jose. “We made mental mistakes at the worst possible time, so we deserved to have that type of pressure.”
Trailing 4-2, the Kings scored twice in the final 3:18 of regulation. Dallas took three penalties in a 63-second span, giving Los Angeles a two-man advantage for 1:10 late in regulation. Handzus scored his second of the game during the 5-on-3 power play.
“I think it was just a matter of playing our game. We got away from it and took a lot of penalties that we shouldn’t have and put ourselves behind the 8-ball. It’s real disappointing,” said Dallas defenceman Mark Fistric, who got a roughing penalty with 2:24 left in regulation. “It’s a fine line. You get caught up in the heat of the moment and you get into a pushing war. Unfortunately, I fell on the wrong wide of it.”
The Kings, who outshot Dallas 21-3 in the third period, ended a four-game losing streak when Handzus played Jack Johnson’s wide slap shot off the end boards and circled the net before putting a wraparound just inside the left post for his 13th goal.
“When the coach puts you in a situation like that, it shows you that he trusts you. So you want to give it back to the team and help the team any way you can,” said Handzus, whose other NHL trick was on Dec. 23, 2000. against Anaheim while playing for St. Louis.
“We needed the two points, and we were scrambling,” Handzus said. “It wasn’t the best game that we’ve played, but we won. That’s the most important thing right now.”
Erik Ersberg started for only the third time in Los Angeles’ last 20 games, stopping 15 of 19 shots one day after signing a two-year contract extension. Jonathan Quick took over for Ersberg at the start of the third period with the Kings trailing 4-2.
Mike Ribeiro, Loui Eriksson and Steve Ott each had a goal and an assist for Dallas and rookie James Neal scored his 21st goal. Turco made 35 saves – 19 in the third period – as the Stars lost for the sixth time in seven games after a 10-3 stretch.
Dallas right-wing Jere Lehtinen did not play because of an undisclosed upper-body injury after getting hit by San Jose’s Rob Blake in Wednesday’s 4-1 victory.
The Stars appeared to be well in control with a 3-0 lead when the game suddenly turned on a penalty against newly acquired Steve Begin for cross-checking Oscar Moller with 4:36 remaining in the second period. Handzus got Los Angeles on the board just 17 seconds later, tipping in Kyle Quincey’s one-timer from the right point.
The Kings kept the pressure on Turco, who left a bad rebound on Dustin Brown’s wrist shot from the right circle and was left defenceless as Frolov easily converted the rebound into a wide-open net for his 27th goal at with 3:46 left in the period.
Dallas coach Dave Tippett used a timeout to settle his club, and Ott restored the Stars’ two-goal margin by poking his 13th goal past Ersberg during a goalmouth scramble just 14 seconds before the second intermission.
The Stars, struggling to get back into a playoff spot with Brenden Morrow, Sergei Zubov, Brad Richards and Toby Petersen all on injured reserve, opened the scoring at 5:49 of the second period. Eriksson recorded his team-high 29th goal, beating a sprawling Ersberg to the glove side after Mike Modano set him up in the low slot.
Modano’s assist increased his career total to 781, tying Brian Leetch for second place among American-born players behind Phil Housley (894). Modano holds the records for goals (543) and total points (1,324) by an American-born player.
Notes: C Brendan Morrison played his first game with Dallas after being claimed off waivers from Anaheim on Wednesday. He was reunited with Turco, his teammate at the University of Michigan for three seasons. They won an NCAA championship together in 1995-96. … D Sean O’Donnell’s fighting major in the second period gave him 860 penalty minutes in a Kings uniform, surpassing current assistant coach Mark Hardy for fourth place on the franchise list behind Marty McSorley, Jay Wells and Rob Blake.