LOS ANGELES — After all the momentum swings, debatable calls and general weirdness in the Los Angeles Kings’ chippy visit from Dallas, neither team seemed all that surprised when it was decided on a puck to the chest.
Jeff Carter deflected the winning goal off his upper body with 51 seconds left in overtime, and the Kings took sole possession of fourth place in the Western Conference with a 4-3 victory over the Stars on Sunday night.
Captain Dustin Brown scored two goals for the defending Stanley Cup champions, and Mike Richards scored an early goal before putting the puck off the crest on Carter’s black jersey in front for the overtime winner — Carter’s 25th goal of a standout season.
"Giving up a two-goal lead and then falling behind and being able to come back and win is a good response by our group," Brown said.
The Kings (26-14-5) moved two points clear of San Jose for fourth place and home-ice advantage in the first round after the Sharks lost to Columbus. Both teams have three games left, with San Jose visiting Los Angeles for the regular-season finale Saturday.
The champs also got a reminder of the tenacity necessary to win in the post-season after Dallas got the benefit of two late refereeing decisions — a Dallas goal that stood after Ryan Garbutt played the puck with a precariously high stick, and a Los Angeles goal that was waved off for unclear reasons.
"The second goal against, and the goal taken away in the third, were judgment calls by the refs," Brown said. "That stuff happens throughout the course of a game and throughout the course of the season. It’s a matter of how you respond when things aren’t going your way."
The Kings ended Dallas’ four-game Staples Center winning streak in a bad-tempered meeting between division rivals. Los Angeles has won six of its last nine games, earning a point all but once.
Jonathan Quick made 24 saves while beating Dallas for the first time in four tries this season. Los Angeles also prevented rival Anaheim from clinching its second Pacific Division title in franchise history after the Ducks won at Edmonton earlier. Los Angeles trails Anaheim by five points with three games left.
"Honestly, I’m not watching anybody else," Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said. "I just want us to take care of our own business, and who we play is who play. … I don’t think we’re selective about that. We’ve talked about (home ice), but that’s the end result."
Alex Goligoski scored early in the third period and Kari Lehtonen stopped 27 shots for the Stars, who have lost three of four. Loui Eriksson and Antoine Roussel also scored for the Stars (22-19-4), who sit three points behind the Blue Jackets and Minnesota for the final playoff spot.
"Our work ethic was there, as it has been for a while now, so it’s always good to see," Goligoski said. "Points are huge right now. We battled to get one point, and then kind of let it slip right there, but we’ve just got to move on. If we win these next three, we feel like we have a pretty good shot here."
The Stars have a game in hand on Columbus, but Detroit is even with Dallas in ninth place with 48 points, and the Red Wings have a game in hand on the Stars. Dallas still hosts Columbus and Detroit in the season’s final week, keeping its playoff fate in its own hands.
"There’s some crazy stuff that happened out there, but stuff that’s out of our control," Dallas defenceman Stephane Robidas said. "You’ve just got to battle through it. We’re still in there. We’re still right there. It’s still right there for us."
After Richards opened the scoring early in the first period, Brown got his 17th goal with a clinical wrist shot into a tiny opening early in the second period. Just 20 seconds later, Eriksson took a wild swing at a deflection of Ray Whitney’s shot, getting just the second goal in 17 games for Dallas’ leading scorer.
The Stars evened it late in the second period after Garbutt swatted a puck out of mid-air with what appeared to be a blatant high stick. The deflection landed right on the stick of Roussel, who scored his seventh goal of the season. Quick skated out of his crease and slapped the ice in anger when the goal stood.
Just 10 seconds into the third period, the puck went behind Lehtonen while Los Angeles’ Trevor Lewis crashed the net, but the officials blew the play dead, further incensing the sellout Staples Center crowd.
Moments later, Goligoski scored his third goal in 44 games. The Kings came back with fire, and Brown tied it with a power-play goal off a rebound.
NOTES: Dallas LW Lane MacDermid returned to the lineup after seven straight games while nursing an upper-body injury. He scored a goal at Anaheim in each of his first two games after arriving in a trade from Boston. … D Trevor Daley also returned for the Stars after a one-game absence with an upper-body injury. Jordie Benn was scratched. … Lewis played in his 200th NHL game.