When the Kings’ offense found its footing against the Dallas Stars, which really resembled it finding a launching pad, it seemed as if the net had doubled in size.
Dustin Brown beat Kari Lehtonen on a power play. Anze Kopitar drifted into the slot and ripped a shot past Lehtonen’s left shoulder. Drew Doughty found space on the next power play and blasted a slap shot in. That totaled three scores in 3 minutes 2 seconds, which bettered the Kings’ season average of 2.46 goals per game.
It also gave them four goals for the second straight game — albeit in a 6-4 loss on Monday — which they will have a chance to build on when the St. Louis Blues (21-15-5) visit Staples Center for a 7:30 p.m. meeting Thursday. The Blues allow the third-fewest shots (27.9) in the NHL but also the seventh-most goals (2.98). That is largely due to a revolving door at goaltender, where Jake Allen and Carter Hutton have almost evenly split time the last three weeks.
“They’re a team that’s made a transition in goal, as we have because of injury,” Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said Thursday morning. “If you look at it right now, they’re like us, they don’t give up many shots against but their goals against and their save percentage is not where they would like it. That’s probably the one thing I bet they want to address more than anything.”
When asked about Monday’s offensive outburst after practice on Wednesday, Sutter narrowed his focus to that game’s result. The Kings beat the Minnesota Wild, 4-3, on Saturday but could not make a four-goal performance stand for a win over the Stars.
“We scored four goals our last two games. You should win both games,” Sutter said. “That’s all I’ll say about it, if you were at the games. You score four goals, you should win. We gave up the fewest shots in the league again. You shouldn’t have to score five.”
Peter Budaj gave up five of Dallas’ goals on 22 shots and was replaced by Jeff Zatkoff midway through the third period. The Stars scored their final goal on an empty net after Zatkoff was pulled for an extra skater. Budaj was the first goalie off the ice at Thursday’s morning skate and is expected to start against the Blues.
“In order for us to stay in the race our goaltending’s got to be average,” Sutter said. “I’m sure both [teams] are saying the same thing.”
Gift that keeps on giving
The Kings and the Ontario Reign, their American Hockey League affiliate, will present the Ronald McDonald House Inland Empire with a ceremonial $1-million check at Thursday’s game.
The donation, which was made last year, helped that Ronald McDonald House double its number of guest rooms and create Kings-themed recreation rooms for children and their families. There are now 54 guest rooms and the recreation rooms are equipped with new televisions, furniture and arcade hockey sets.
The revamped facility was unveiled on Dec. 11.