Kings Show Playoff Mettle In Win Over the Stars
The Kings could have scowled and just taken the loss. What the hell did it matter? They've already clinched a playoff spot. Besides the Kings have had problems with the Dallas Stars this season having only won once in the four games so far this season. But the Kings paid no mind to a couple of crucial calls (and non-calls) that went against them coming back in overtime to defeat the Stars 4-3.
"When the games become more meaningful, we become a better team," captain Dustin Brown said.
With the Kings leading 2-1, Stars center Ryan Garbutt made a pass with a high stick the puck going to Antoine Roussel who shot it past Jonathan Quick for the equalizer. The play should have been called dead when Garbutt made the pass, but instead play went on. Since the high-stick did not cause the puck to cross the line, it's not reviewable.
Thus the goal was allowed which angered Quick so much he skated to center ice to sound off on the officials before slamming his stick down on the ice. Mike Richards expressed his displeasure on Vernon Fiddler, both of whom were sent to the box for roughing.
Then as the third period started an apparent goal scored by Trevor Lewis was waved off because of incidental goaltender interference. An offensive player cannot shove a defensive player into the goaltender, and that's what referee Mike Hasenfratz thought Lewis did. In reality Aaron Rome fell into Lehtonen with minimal contact by Lewis. So what should have been a 3-1 game was instead 2-2.
The Stars took advantage 30 seconds later with Quick outside the crease, Alex Goligoski stuffed the puck into the vacated net to give Dallas its first lead of the game. Quick tried to dive back into place, but was too late.
But the Kings didn't hang their heads down.
"You look down on the bench and couple of guys said 'that's not going to beat us tonight,'" Anze Kopitar said. "There’s nothing you can really do."
And it didn't beat them. On a power play two minutes later after nearly everyone touched the puck, Jeff Carter's shot from the high slot deflected off of Lehtonen and went straight to Brown outside of the crease who shot it straight past for the tying score.
"That stuff happens throughout the course of the game, throughout the course of the season," Brown said. "It's a matter of how you respond when things aren't going your way."
The Kings showed that they are serious in getting ready for the playoffs. "We just want to try and win games," head coach Darryl Sutter said. "Honestly I'm not watching anybody else. I just want us to take care of our business and who we play is who we play."
Sutter did admit that he did not want to face the Chicago Blackhawks, however. "We're going everything we can to not play them."
The Anaheim Ducks could have clinched the Pacific Division title had the Kings lost in regulation. That will wait for another day. Meanwhile the worst the Kings can end up is a six-seed in the playoffs. They are currently sitting fourth in the conference with 57 points, two points ahead of San Jose.
With the Kings improving game by game, you can almost smell the playoffs coming around the corner. This gutcheck win proved that they are ready to defend their title.
But then again, the Kings looked awful heading into last season's playoffs having lost twice to San Jose en route to barely getting the eight-seed. We know what happened there.