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Jeff Halpern scores game-winner as Stars defeat slumping Kings 3-2

The 24-year-old rookie gave up his first NHL goals Saturday night, and made 32 saves in his second career start to lead the Stars past the slumping Los Angeles Kings 3-2 Saturday night.

"I wasn't expecting to shut everybody out and go 25-0 this season," said Smith, who had a shutout in his NHL debut against the Phoenix Coyotes on Oct. 21. "It was exciting out there. I feel like I had a good mental focus out there."

Jeff Halpern scored the winning goal with 3:44 left. It was his first goal of the season.

Halpern rebounded Jere Lehtinen's shot past Los Angeles goalie Mathieu Garon.

"I think I had a few too many chances to not the score," Halpern said. "To get it at that time in a game our goaltender essentially stole for us, that was pretty nice."

The Stars, who lost Friday night to Detroit, extended the Kings' winless streak to five games (0-4-1). It is the longest slide for Los Angeles since it lost the last 11 games of the 2003-2004 season.

Smith, who shut out the Phoenix Coyotes in his NHL debut on Oct. 21, improved to 2-0 as starter Marty Turco took the night off.

Los Angeles continued to struggle offensively as it has scored just 14 goals over the last 10 games.

"We keep getting good effort," Los Angeles' Jeff Cowan said. "This is tough. But if we keep playing hard this will eventually turn around."

Philippe Boucher and Stu Barnes had goals as Dallas (9-2-0) matched the franchise mark that was set in 1996-97.

Dallas coach Dave Tippett said his club has looked sluggish the past week, and he plans on giving the players the next two days off so they can get some rest.

"We have not played to our potential," Tippett said. "For not playing well for three of the last four games, we got six points. I have to give the players credit for that."

Barnes' first goal of the season gave the Stars a 2-1 lead with 44.5 seconds left in the second. Rob Blake scored early in the second on a power play, snapping the Kings' 0-for-23 slide with the man advantage.

The Kings tied the score at 2 on Tom Kostopoulos' goal at 7:10 of the third.

Los Angeles pulled Garon in the final minute and had a two-man advantage for the final 28.7 seconds when Sergei Zubov was called for hooking. However, the Kings couldn't get a shot off.

"We gave up that goal at the end of the game," said Garon, who had 25 saves. "It always seems like we have bad luck toward the end of games."

Smith, who faced 22 shots against the Coyotes, saw far more action from the Kings. Los Angeles outshot Dallas 34-28 one night after taking 38 shots in a 2-0 loss to Columbus.

Los Angeles, who came in next-to-last on the power play, was 1-of-8 with a man advantage.

Boucher opened the scoring with a goal from just above the right circle at 14:34 of the first.

Blake flipped a shot from near the blue line for his first goal of the season, and Los Angeles' first power-play goal in five games.

Dallas' Matthew Barnaby had two assists, including a nice pass to a streaking Barnes, who beat Garon from the right circle to give the Stars a 2-1 lead with 44.5 seconds left in the second.

Notes: Dallas C Steve Ott has a fractured ankle and will miss the next two months. He is scheduled to have surgery Monday. Ott got into a fight with Kostopoulos midway through the second period. It appeared Ott fell awkwardly after he was hit by Kostopoulos. ... Los Angeles C Craig Conroy played in his 700th NHL game.


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