We conduct a comprehensive investigation of the lasing mechanism in a photonic crystal slab laser with a refractive index that is periodic in two dimensions. Experimental spectra of laser structures fabricated with organic gain media are presented. It is found that lasing frequencies can be explained in terms of Van Hove singularities in the density of modes. We also observe lasing spectra that cannot be obtained from structures with one-dimensional periodicity, such as traditional distributed feedback lasers. Lasing frequencies are computed using numerical techniques.