Back-and-Forth Battle Ends in 5-4 Shootout Defeat

The Kings missed out on an extra point with the loss, but potentially losing Anze Kopitar could be far worse. (photo courtesy of NHL.com)

In what could be billed as the most entertaining contest of the season, the Kings fought with an extraordinary intensity but ultimately came up short, losing in a shootout to the Dallas Stars 5-4.

A back-and-forth game saw a shootout determine the winner deep into the night. Jarret Stoll, Dustin Brown, and Trevor Lewis were all denied on their attempts while the Stars’ Loui Eriksson connected on his to earn the squad the extra point.

Although he faced sixteen shots in the first period, which isn’t exactly a paltry amount, Kings’ lone All-Star Jonathan Quick uncharacteristically let two get behind him before the intermission, putting his team in a hole early.

The Kings appeared to suffer a colossal blow to any momentum after Anze Kopitar’s tally made it a one goal game. Drew Doughty was tripped while skating from one point in the offensive zone to another, and the loose puck led to an odd-man break and goal for Dallas on the other end of the ice. That goal made the score 3-1 in favor of the visiting squad. Doughty was especially incensed after the non-call, admitting as much when asked by on-ice correspondent Patrick O’Neal several moments later. To be fair to the referees, Doughty should perhaps be thankful he wasn’t dealt an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for embellishment—a habit the defenseman has earned a reputation for in the last few weeks. But I digress.

The team was able to respond however, a mere two minutes later when Lewis took advantage of a poorly defended clear in the neutral zone, beat the defenseman and scored his first goal of the season to close the gap to one once again.

Jack Johnson tied the game on a two-man advantage a little more than seven minutes into the third period. The Stars saw their lead evaporate thanks to a bevy of unnecessary penalties. The Kings were handed 1:33 seconds of 5-3 power play time on Johnson’s goal, then an additional two-minute minor led to a Dustin Brown goal to give the Kings the lead—their first of the game.

But it would not last. After a scary hit on Kopitar that kept him out the rest of the game, Mike Richards responded with haymakers to the head of Brendan Morrow, but earned himself a ten-minute misconduct as well as a double minor for instigating and unsportsmanlike conduct. The Kings’ consecutive penalty kill streak was put to the test but ultimately ended at forty-two when Loui Errickson netted his second of the night to tie the game at four with just as many minutes left in regulation.

Tempers were flaring all night long for these two division rivals; between the non-call on Doughty, the hit (which was legal, by the way) on Kopitar and near-goal and subsequent scrum in front of Kari Lehtonen during overtime, additional action after each whistle could be seen at every opportunity. Total penalty minutes accumulated by each team—Los Angeles: 41, Dallas: 23. (By the way, 23 of those penalty minutes for the Kings were from Mike Richards. Yes, all by humself.)

The offense was firing on multiple cylinders at a time tonight. The Kings fired a total of forty-one shots on net and scored three power play goals for the first time all year long. Their previous high, two, hadn’t been reached since the seventh of November—exactly thirty games ago. Moving forward, their ability to score more than two goals a game and rally from an early deficit can absolutely be built upon.

Unfortunately, these two teams only play each other once more this season: Sunday, 2/12 in Dallas. Save the date.

INJURY UPDATE: As of 1:57 EST, neither GM Dean Lombardi nor head coach Darryl Sutter released an update on Kopitar. He did not return to the game, to nobody’s surprise after the frightening way his head and neck were crumpled up against the boards. For now, it’s an upper body injury. Safe to say everyone wishes Anze a safe but speedy recovery.