He treated warmups like it was another game in this building, which it was in some sense.
Jack Campbell had served as backup goalie at American Airlines Center, and that was as he began to patch his career back together through heavy periods of doubt, negated by hard work. He didn’t look at the crowd in the pregame skate. He doesn’t anyway.
A couple of hours later, Campbell looked at Drew Doughty as Doughty hugged Campbell following a 2-1 win Thursday against the Dallas Stars.
“For sure, everybody in hockey knows my story, and how it didn’t work out here,” Campbell said. “They wanted it for me. It’s such a great group. But I just wanted a win because we needed it.”
Campbell got closure on that part of his career — six years in the Stars organization as a struggling former first-round draft pick — and he closed the door on Dallas with 29 saves. Eighteen were in the third period.
It’s not the blueprint moment he originally conjured, but maybe that trying road made it more rewarding.
“Nothing more I wanted at 18 or 19, 20, 21, 22, was to be the franchise goalie here,” Campbell said. “It didn’t happen but it’s great to come back here. I still have a lot of great friends over there and they’re good players. It’s nice to compete against them and battle for a win.”
Goals by Dustin Brown and Carl Hagelin, his first with the Kings, supported Campbell, and the final score masked a third period played in the Kings’ end. They were outshot 19-3 and were fortunate to see Dallas strike two posts.
Campbell stopped Mattias Janmark on a late break-in, and the Stars goal came on a deflection off Esa Lindell with goalie Ben Bishop pulled for an extra attacker with 64 seconds left. Campbell also stopped all eight of Tyler Seguin’s shots.
Hagelin has been with the Kings just a few weeks but he can see why Campbell is so well-liked.
“I could sense that right away,” Hagelin said. “I asked around. I didn’t know how long he’s been here. It feels like he’s been here as long as the guys that won the [Stanley] Cup in 2014 and 2012 … it shows that if you’re that big of a presence that early into your career, into being a part of a team, that means a lot.”
Hagelin’s first goal since Oct. 16 was preceded by a head-turning move by Tyler Toffoli around Seguin to get a shot that Bishop couldn’t collect. Hagelin went to the net to convert the loose puck at 4:39 of the second period.
Brown ended a six-game drought on the power-play when Doughty’s wrist shot from up top went in off of him. Doughty could joke about it afterward.
“He said it hit his hand or something,” Doughty said. “He could be lying, just stealing my goal.”
It was a dead-serious hit by Brown that finished off a fine second period for the Kings.
His devastating shoulder-to-shoulder bump on Tyler Pitlick knocked Pitlick from the game with an upper-body injury.
Perhaps not even Andrew Cogliano could have continued after that blow. The former Ducks winger said his trade to the Stars hadn’t yet sunk in. He was a glue player for the Ducks and a part of that community, but he understood the move.