DALLAS -- Just when it looked like the Dallas Stars were about to get at least a point out of Sunday’s game against Los Angeles, the Kings scored with 20.8 seconds remaining in regulation to beat the Stars 3-2.
The Los Angeles game-winner, scored by Michal Handzus, came less than 22 seconds after the Stars had tied the game on a goal by Jamie Langenbrunner. The regulation loss snapped the Stars’ points streak at eight games and left them one point behind Los Angeles in the Western Conference standings.
“We’ll probably look at some positives from the game, but it’s five minutes after a loss and I don’t think we want anyone in here to accept those easily,” said Stars captain Brenden Morrow. “We’re all a little [ticked] off right now, as we should be.”
The Stars battled back from a 2-0 deficit in the game and seemed poised to get at least a point out of it when Alex Goligoski put a shot on net and Langenbrunner poked the puck past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick with 42.1 seconds remaining.
“It was laying between his legs. He was searching for it and I was lucky to squeeze it through,” Langenbrunner said of the goal.
But the Kings got the puck in the Dallas zone with just under 30 seconds left, Alex Ponikarovsky centered it and Handzus knocked it past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen to give Los Angeles the 3-2 lead with 20.8 seconds remaining.
“The goalie was outside the crease, so I was kind of coming in and looking for the puck. It hit my stick and I was able to redirect it,” said Handzus. “It's huge. It's two points, and we need every point. Plus, they didn't get a point.”
The Stars didn’t get a point in a game for the first time since February 13, when they lost 1-0 to New Jersey at American Airlines Center.
“It was a tough loss the way we battled back,” said Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas. “We’ve got to be able to close it and get it to overtime. It happened and there is nothing we can do now. We’ve got to focus on the next one.”
Los Angeles built a 2-0 lead in the game, getting a power play goal from Drew Doughty 3:04 into the game and then a Dustin Penner goal off the rush at 14:01 of the second. The Stars got back into the game when Loui Eriksson set up Brad Richards on a breakaway, and Richards beat Quick for his 25th goal of the season.
Sunday’s game was the first of what will be a week of tough opponents coming into the AAC. San Jose is up next, followed by Chicago and Philadelphia. So, the Stars are determined to put Sunday’s loss behind them and move forward.
“There’s lots of good things that came with tonight’s game. As we said to our players, we just have to focus in on making these subtle improvements that we can. That’s what we’ll choose to focus on,” Crawford said. “The one thing that happens in the playoffs is when you have a tough loss, you can’t dwell on it. You just have to move forward and get past it. It sucks, there’s no doubt about it. There’s no sense dwelling on it, that does nobody any good. We’ll regroup and get ourselves focused forward.”
*Stars forward Adam Burish missed Sunday’s game with a lower body injury