DALLAS – The Los Angeles Kings should have been ripe for a lacklustre showing at the close of a long trip.
Instead, the Kings responded with one of their most spirited efforts of the season. Ryan Smyth had a power-play goal and two assists, Justin Williams added a goal and an assist, and the Kings ended a three-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Monday night.
Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds scored, and Jonathan Quick made 29 saves as the Kings wrapped up a six-game trip.
Los Angeles coach Terry Murray gave his team the day off Sunday to rest about a dozen players recovering from cases of the flu picked up during the nine-day trip that included stops along the East Coast and through the Midwest.
“We turned the corner (Sunday) with all the flu,” Murray said. “… We looked a little road-weary in the last 10 minutes of the first period, then we had a very good second period.”
The Kings (5-4) scored three straight goals in the second period while outshooting the Stars 18-4 after managing two goals or less in the first five games of the trip.
Los Angeles began the road swing with wins against St. Louis and the New York Islanders before losing the three straight.
“I thought we started out on a really good road trip, then we went into a little funk,” said Smyth, one of the players who experienced flu-like symptoms. “To end it off like this gives us some confidence going back home.”
Rookie Jamie Benn scored for Dallas (3-2-3), and Marty Turco had 28 saves.
The Stars, who have been outscored 7-1 in their last two home games, were playing their third game in four nights. But there were no excuses from the Dallas locker room.
“There was a lack of desperation,” Stars captain Brenden Morrow said. “LA came out fighting in the second period and we had a lacklustre effort.”
Benn notched his second NHL goal at 17:18 of the opening period. He set up in front of the net and converted Morrow’s backhand, no-look centring pass.
In the first three minutes of the second period, the Kings were frustrated when Dustin Brown’s shot hit a goal post and Williams had an attempt glance off the crossbar.
Dallas had killed most of Los Angeles’ 5-on-3 power play before Smyth’s deflection with seven seconds left on the one-man advantage tied it 1-1 at 5:17 of the second period. That turned the momentum in the Kings’ favour.
Williams’ tip-in at 13:26 of the second put the Kings in front 2-1.
“I thought just that we needed one goal to break through,” Williams said. “They were up 1-0 and being stingy and we had not much going on. But we got one goal, and then two more.”
Kopitar gave Los Angeles a two-goal lead from the slot 2:33 later off Williams’ setup.
Quick kept the two-goal advantage intact by stopping all 15 shots he faced in the third period, and Simmonds’ empty-netter with 1:37 left clinched the win.
“We had 10 minutes in the second period when we lost our focus and it cost us the game,” Stars coach Marc Crawford said.
Notes: Dallas C Brad Richards was scratched due to a strained groin and is listed as day-to-day. C Perttu Lindgren, called up from Texas of the AHL on Sunday, made his NHL debut. … Smyth has six goals in nine games. … Stars C Mike Modano (ribs) could be out for several more weeks. The all-time leading U.S.-born scorer in NHL history has played in only one game this season. … The Stars are without RW Jere Lehtinen (ribs). … Out for the Kings were D Alex Martinez (lower body) and LW Richard Clune (groin). … The Stars had been 8-2-1 at home against the Kings over the past three seasons.