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Stars' Wedgewood wins matchup of backup goalies in 4-1 victory over Kings

DALLAS (AP) — Scott Wedgewood made 27 saves to win a matchup of backup goaltenders and defenseman Thomas Harley had a goal and an assist to help lead the Dallas Stars past the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 on Saturday night.

Wedgewood outdueled David Rittich in net to beat the Kings for the second time in eight days. Craig Smith, Wyatt Johnston and Jamie Benn also scored for the Stars, who took a 3-0 first-period lead and avoided losing a third consecutive game in regulation for the first time since April 2022.

The victory followed a 6-2 home loss to New Jersey on Thursday night and came on the night that Dallas unveiled a statue of Mike Modano, the franchise leader in goals and points, during the first intermission.

“Great energy in the building. I think that fed our first period,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “A good response game after the last one. We were just really solid.”

Wedgewood got the start after first-year All-Star Jake Oettinger was pulled early in the second period of Thursday’s defeat after allowing four goals on 10 shots. Two nights earlier, Oettinger gave up three third-period goals in a 4-3 home loss to Florida.

Dallas swept the three-game season series against Los Angeles by a combined 13-3.

“We haven’t played good against that team at all,” the Kings’ Phillip Danault said. “We haven’t shown what we’ve got. Maybe it’s mentally and have to be more ready.”

Rittich stopped 25 shots for the Kings, who split a road back-to-back after winning 5-0 at Chicago on Friday night. Rittich entered with a career-best 2.19 goals-against average.

Kevin Fiala had the Kings’ only goal against Wedgewood for the second straight meeting.

Harley’s goal 2:28 in came on a high wrist shot that caromed off the glass behind the net, sailed back over the net and off the back of Rittich’s left arm and in for the score. Harley, who leads Dallas defensemen with 15 goals, snapped a 13-game goal drought.

Smith gave Dallas a 2-0 lead with a 50-foot wrist shot from just inside the blue line at 8:49 of the first period. Smith has scored in consecutive games for the first time since March 2022.

Johnston carried into the offensive zone on a 3-on-2 break, kept possession and beat Rittich to the glove side for a 3-0 lead at 15:15 of the opening period. Johnston has scored in a season-best four consecutive games and is tied with Roope Hintz for the team lead with 26 goals.

Benn’s goal at 2:30 of the second period came 22 seconds into a power play against the league’s best penalty killing unit.

Fiala broke up the shutout bid at 1:11 of the third period, giving him goals in nine of his last 14 games.

The Kings are 11-7-1 under interim coach Jim Hiller, who replaced Todd McLellan during the All-Star break.

UP NEXT

Kings: Begin a three-game homestand Tuesday against Chicago.

Stars: Host Arizona on Wednesday.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl