LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings took another game down to the wire, reflective of the jockeying going on between the Western Conference rivals in the standings.
Loui Eriksson scored twice and then added the deciding goal in a shootout to help the Stars rally for a 5-4 victory Thursday night that left them one point behind the Kings, who are tied with Minnesota for the eighth and final playoff spot.
“We always play tight games against L.A., but we came back pretty good and finally won the game,” Eriksson said. “So it’s two big points for us. It was really intense out there. I thought we took too many penalties, but we stuck with it and found a way. We played a hardworking game the whole way through.”
Eriksson tied the game 4-4 on a power-play goal at 14:35 of the third period. He tried to centre the puck in front of the net, and the Kings’ Willie Mitchell inadvertently knocked it in when he tried to clear it.
Eriksson, the Stars’ second shooter in the tiebreaker, pushed the puck over the goal line as goalie Jonathan Quick fell over. Trevor Lewis then failed to connect for the Kings.
“I try to tell myself not to look at the standings, but it’s a little like an addiction for me,” Dallas coach Glen Gulutzen said. “Every day I’m searching them out to see if they’ve changed from 3 to 4 o’clock. We are playing playoff hockey. It’s going to be a tough stretch here, but (games) 40 through 60, we’ve got to be strong.”
Kari Lehtonen made 37 saves to earn his 150th NHL victory. Quick, named to his first all-star team earlier Thursday, stopped 34 shots for the Kings.
Jack Johnson and Dustin Brown scored consecutive power-play goals to give the Kings a 4-3 lead in the third period.
“Our PK was great and they found a way to get a fluke one,” Brown said. “It takes overtime and a shootout.”
Johnson assisted on two second-period goals for his second straight multipoint game and third of the season. Anze Kopitar had a goal and two assists before leaving with 7:48 remaining in the third after getting tossed into the boards by Brenden Morrow.
“He told me he’s fine, so we’ll see what that means,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said.
Kopitar lay face down in a corner before slowly getting up and leaving under his own power. The Kings said he had an upper body injury. He was circling behind the net when he put his left shoulder into Morrow, who raised his right arm and sent Kopitar flying.
“We watched it on slo-mo and we watched it again, and in my mind, it was a clean hit,” Gulutzen said. “But he fell very awkwardly into the boards. I don’t know the extent of it, but I hope he’s OK. I don’t think anything will come of it, but that’s for the league to decide.”
As a result, the Kings’ Mike Richards received penalties for instigating a fight, unsportsmanlike conduct, fighting and a 10-minute misconduct, while Morrow was sent off for fighting. Dallas then went on a four-minute power play that led to Eriksson’s tying goal.
“We’re a very tight team. Everybody is going to stick up for each other and that was really good on his part,” Justin Williams said of Richards. “It’s a shame we didn’t kill it off for him.”
Dallas took a 2-0 lead on goals by Eriksson and Eric Nystrom 51 seconds apart in the first. Eriksson scored on a 3-on-2, and Nystrom put in his own rebound.
“It was a huge win for us,” Nystrom said. “The last few games we’ve been just forcing plays a little bit and maybe didn’t have our usual jump. But tonight we pursued the puck and were getting pucks to the net and taking what they were giving us. That really helped us out.”
The Kings sandwiched goals by Kopitar and Lewis, his first of the season, around one by the Stars’ Alex Goligoski, leaving Los Angeles trailing 3-2 in the second.
NOTES: Kings D Slava Voynov returned after missing four straight games with an upper body injury. … The Stars improved to 3-1 in shootouts this season; the Kings fell to 3-5. … Johnson has seven points in six games. … Lewis’ goal was his first since March 26, 2011. … The Stars earned their team-record 102nd win against the Kings, surpassing the 101 they have against Detroit. … Los Angeles scored three power-play goals in a game for the first time since March 8, 2010, against Columbus. … The Stars are 3-2 against the Kings with one meeting left.