DALLAS – Jamie Langenbrunner came up with the play of the game on a historic night.
Langenbrunner scored the go-ahead goal on a second-period power play in his 1,000th career game as the Dallas Stars beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 on Monday night.
The goal came six minutes after Loui Eriksson also scored with the man advantage.
Langenbrunner broke a 1-1 tie when he drove the net and converted Brad Richards’ centring pass at 16:59 of the second.
Langenbrunner gave most of the credit to Richards for the setup.
“I didn’t have to do a whole lot, Richie just kind of laid it there on my stick,” Langenbrunner said. “A great pass by him.
“It feels good to contribute on the scoreboard, especially in a win.”
Langenbrunner has appeared in 436 games for Dallas and 564 for New Jersey. He became the 260th NHL player to reach the milestone, following San Jose’s Patrick Marleau, who logged his 1,000th game against Phoenix earlier Monday.
The Stars held a pre-game ceremony for Langenbrunner, who had gone without a goal in his first three games back with Dallas since he was acquired in a trade with the Devils. A few hours later, he scored his first goal for the Stars since March 3, 2002.
“It’s definitely a nice touch,” Langenbrunner said of being honoured before the game. “It’s been kind of a hectic week and a half for me, but the guys have made me feel really good here, made me feel comfortable and at the beginning of the night, a great reception from the crowd.”
Richards had two assists and Kari Lehtonen denied a last-minute penalty shot and made 23 saves for the Pacific Division-leading Stars, 6-0-1 in January.
With goaltender Jonathan Bernier on the bench in favour of a sixth attacker, the Kings nearly tied the game on a pileup in front of the net. But Stars defenceman Jeff Woywitka pulled the puck off the goal-line, giving the Kings the penalty shot with 52.4 seconds left.
Lehtonen skated out from his net, then made a sliding pad save on Jack Johnson’s penalty shot to preserve the lead.
“At the top of the circle I saw how far out he was,” Johnson said. “I didn’t see a lot to shoot at, figured I’d deke him, and he made a good save.
“It’s a guessing game on both parts. Sometimes you’re a winner, sometimes you’re a loser. I thought I made a good move at him, but he made a better save.”
Woywitka’s quick thinking bailed out Lehtonen, who was surrounded by Kings crashing the net.
“I was just thinking, ‘Well the puck’s just laying there,’ (Lehtonen) didn’t really see it, his pad was in the way,” Woywitka said. “…it’s just one of those plays, you’re just reacting. You just want to get it out as quick as you can.”
Bernier stopped 26 shots and Justin Williams scored for the Kings, 2-8-0 in their last 10.
The Stars had lost their previous five at home to the Kings, and had dropped their first two meetings with Los Angeles this season by a combined 8-3.
This time, the Stars did a better job neutralizing the Kings’ speed and skill.
“It’s huge in a lot of ways for us tonight,” Dallas coach Marc Crawford said. “They’re a divisional opponent and I think we were 10 points ahead of them and now we’re 12 points ahead of them, so that’s a huge win for us that way.
“You want to bank any points that you can.”
Williams was credited with the game’s first goal and his 17th of the season at 7:30 of the first when his centring pass went in off Dallas defenceman Nicklas Grossman. The goal was upheld after a video review.
But the Stars got the momentum back when Eriksson’s redirect of Richards’ pass pulled them even 1-1 at 11:38 of the second, 14 seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play.
“We didn’t have a lot of puck possession after that,” Kings coach Terry Murray said.
Eriksson has 17 goals and points in 10 straight games, the NHL’s longest current streak.
NOTES: The Kings began a stretch of 13-of-16 games on the road. … Dallas D Karlis Skrastins played in his 800th NHL game, second-most by any Latvian-born player behind Sandis Ozolinsh’s 875. … Stars D Matt Niskanen sat out his fifth straight game with a cut on the palm of his hand, but is expected back soon. …Kings RW Wayne Simmonds isn’t on the two-game trip that began Monday due to a lower-body injury sustained during a scrum in Saturday night’s 5-2 home win over Edmonton. … Lehtonen has stopped eight-of-nine career penalty shots, two-for-two this season. … Dallas has scored on six of its last 10 power plays.