LOS ANGELES – The rule is clear when it comes to penalty shots and shootout chances: No goals on rebounds. It has to be one continuous motion.
Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick quickly pointed that out to referee Kelly Sutherland after Dallas’ Mike Ribeiro put the puck behind him. Sutherland originally awarded a goal, but reversed his decision after conferring with partner Mike Leggo and the Kings left the ice Saturday night with a 3-2 victory that vaulted them into a first-place tie with San Jose atop the Western Conference.
“I made the initial save and the rebound hit his shin pad, I think, and went in. But after that initial save, the puck’s dead,” said Quick, 7-1-1 with a 2.15 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in his last nine games.
The Dallas players and coaches didn’t leave the bench until a video replay was used to settle it once and for all.
“It was forward progress. Once the goalie touches it, it’s deemed forward progress,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said. “Tough luck for us.”
Following overtime in which the teams skated 3-on-3 for the first 1:45, Michal Handzus got the only goal in the tiebreaker when he beat Alex Auld to the glove side with a backhander.
Anze Kopitar and Alexander Frolov scored second-period goals, and Quick made 25 saves for the Kings, who have won their last six games that have been decided in shootouts.
“We seem to have a flair for the dramatic right now,” forward Justin Williams said.
The Kings, who haven’t made the playoffs since 2002, have 45 points and are one behind Washington for the NHL’s best record. They are 7-0-1 in their last eight games and 21-10-3 overall. Last season, Los Angeles didn’t get its 21st victory until Feb. 3.
“We’re where we want to be, but we feel we haven’t reached our potential yet. And that’s our job – to go out and find it and really dominate teams, which I know we can,” Williams said. “I think we’ve shown this season that we’re an elite team in this conference, and a team that deserves respect.”
Mike Modano and James Neal scored for Dallas.
Modano gave Dallas a 2-1 lead at 7:07 of the second period, 22 seconds after Handzus hit the post with a 25-foot wrist shot. Jere Lehtinen got the puck away from Drew Doughty behind the net and threw it in front to Modano, who scored his fifth goal of the season and 548th of his career to tie Michel Goulet for 26th place.
The assist was Lehtinen’s 500th NHL point.
The Kings tied it just eight seconds before the second intermission. Sean O’Donnell’s slap shot from the left point was blocked by defenceman Stephane Robidas in front of the crease, but Robidas fanned on his hurried attempt to clear the puck and Kopitar whipped it past Auld’s glove for his 16th goal and fifth against Dallas – including a hat trick on Nov. 22.
Neal opened the scoring at 1:22 of the first period with his team-high 14th goal.
Frolov tied it at 4:12 of the second, finishing a 2-on-1 rush with Williams.
Kings right-winger Wayne Simmonds, who has four goals and five assists in his last nine games, was scratched because of an undisclosed lower-body injury – ending his consecutive games streak at 115. He was hurt during Thursday night against Phoenix.
“He is going to be going under the knife on Monday,” coach Terry Murray said. “He’ll have an operation and get his meniscus clipped, and we’ll go from there.”
NOTES: Both teams were coming off 3-2 victories in which they set franchise records for most rounds in a single shootout. The Stars won in the 11th round at San Jose on Friday night, and the Kings beat Phoenix in the eighth round Thursday night. … The Stars have gone to overtime a league-high 14 times, including their last four games.