DALLAS -- After dropping their first two games of the season against the Dallas Stars by a combined score of 7-2, the Los Angeles Kings rebounded on Sunday, getting a pair of third-period goals in a 3-2 win over Dallas before 15,719 fans at American Airlines Center.
Brad Richardson and Justin Williams scored 1:09 apart in the early part of the final frame for Los Angeles, which is 14-1-2 when scoring first. Dallas got a third-period goal from Ray Whitney on the power play at 11:04, his seventh of the season, but that was as close as the Stars would get.
Richardson's goal, his first of the season, came when he flicked a 15-foot wrister over the right shoulder of Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen. It came in just his third game of the year and on the one-year anniversary of his last regular-season goal, on March 31, 2012, at Minnesota. Richardson had been a healthy scratch in each of Los Angeles' last 24 games. His goal came after a lazy pass in the Dallas zone by Stars winger Tomas Vincour.
"Yeah, it's been a trying year so far. Felt good to definitely get in there for sure, but especially get a goal, contribute and have a nice win," Richardson said. "It was nice."
Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan also chimed in on Richardson's tally, but his comments were more about how frustrating it was to see Vincour's bad pass that led to the goal.
"Those blind passes, backhand through the slot, kind of hurt you," Gulutzan said. "Actually, we practice them every day, so who the hell knows where it came from?"
Williams' tally, his seventh of the season, came on a five-foot wrister at 6:49 of the third period that made it a 3-1 game.
Dallas' final goal of the night came when Whitney blasted a 45-foot slapper to the left of Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier with 8:56 remaining.
Bernier stopped 13 of the 15 shots he faced for his eighth win of the season.
"Well, he's solid. That's the way we want to play. We want our goalies to give us a chance to win," Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said of Bernier's performance in the win.
After the game, Bernier dedicated the victory to the memory of his grandmother, who passed away on March 23.
"Yeah, obviously it's never an easy time to go through, but I played that game for her," Bernier said. "I think she'll appreciate that."
The Stars fell to 8-8-1 at home and are now 2-2-0 heading into the final game of their season-long five-game homestand, which concludes on Monday night against Anaheim. Gulutzan was definitely less than pleased with how Sunday's game turned out.
"More like embarrassed," Gulutzan said. "We need to amp up a level. We're fighting for our lives here. If we think performances like that we can just stroll in here, we're mistaken. We will come out hard tomorrow if we have any balls."
Dallas had beaten Los Angeles twice at Staples Center already this season, 5-2 on March 7 and 2-0 three weeks later on March 21. And even though the result was different in this, the third meeting of the season, the Stars head coach didn't see much different from the reigning Stanley Cup champions.
"They didn't do much different," Gulutzan said. "They just amped up their workload and we didn't respond at all. It was like teams from two different leagues tonight, and they were back-to-back, so thank the Lord that they weren't fresh."
The Kings tested Lehtonen early, and Los Angeles struck first when Jeff Carter scored his 20th of the year just 25 seconds in to make it 1-0. Possibly screened by Dustin Penner on the play, Lehtonen looked befuddled by Carter's attempt, a 37-footer that came from the edge of the left faceoff circle and fluttered into the left side of the Stars net.
Lehtonen had stopped a wrister by Penner and a 64-foot slapshot from Drew Doughty prior to Carter's tally.
The Kings nearly made it 2-0 at 15:49 of the first when Jake Muzzin tried to blast a 41-foot slapshot by Lehtonen. However, the Dallas netminder delivered a huge glove save to draw a whistle and keep it a 1-0 game.
Los Angeles outshot Dallas 13-4 in the first period.
Dallas didn't have a shot for the first 13:16 of the second frame until Jamie Benn tied it up with a nine-foot backhand for his eighth goal of the season. Alex Goligoski assisted on Benn's tally, setting up his teammate with a pass from the Dallas blueline that hit him in stride beyond the Kings blueline. Benn had an inch on Kings defenseman Slava Voynov and flipped it in for his second goal in as many games.
After two periods, the Kings had 31 shots compared to just eight by the Stars. Dallas also had eight shots through the first two periods in an 8-1 loss to Chicago on March 16.
Lehtonen stopped 37 of the 40 shots he faced in a losing effort for Dallas, which also got a pair of assists from Goligoski, who now leads the team with 19.
NOTES: Bernier got his first start since March 18 against Phoenix. ... Before the game, Dallas honored former winger Brett Hull for his selection to the Stars' 20th Anniversary Team. Hull spent three seasons in Dallas and was part of the Stars' 1999 Stanley Cup championship team. ... Scouts from the San Jose Sharks and Toronto Maple Leafs were in the press box for Sunday's game. ... Penner returned to the ice after being a healthy scratch in each of the last three games. He got the secondary assist on the first goal of the game by Carter. ... The hooking penalty called on Whitney late in the first period was just the second minor called on the veteran forward all season. ... Los Angeles is 3-0-1 on their current five-game road trip, which will conclude on Tuesday night in Phoenix. ... The Kings are now 5-1-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.