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Kings Hang On To Break Five-Game Slide
A win is a win is a win.
Never mind that the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets have lost the first three games of their road trip crescendoing in a Wagnerian loss 6-0 in Anaheim Friday night. Never mind that their star defenseman Mike Commodore has now been a healthy scratch in nine of his last ten games as he is being shopped around by the Jackets. Never mind that the Kings built a 4-0 lead in the second period only to see it almost slip away thanks to Rick Nash.
“We got two points here, and that's all that matters now,” goalie Jonathan Quick said about the Kings 6-4 win.
But he's right. Those two points are something to hang their hats on, and they needed something to get them going.
The Kings top line did just that early on in the game. With Anze Kopitar driving the puck through the Jackets zone down the slot, he made a great pass as he was falling down to a trailing Dustin Brown down the right wing whose shot sailed passed Jackets netminder Mathieu Garon at 2:13.
“I saw Brownie open, so I think that was pretty much the only way to get it to him,” Kopitar said about his pass. “I tried it and it connected, so it was a good start.”
It was the first of three goals in that period - Alec Martinez scored on a power-play on a shot straight down Figueroa at 9:24 and Jarret Stoll driving to the right circle got a pass from Drew Doughty from the left boards wristed the puck past Garon at 15:50.
“It was a great start to the game,” head coach Terry Murray said. “The first half of the game I thought was exactly what you wanted to have with the compete, with the intensity and doing the right thing.”
It was a hard hitting period with both teams notching 13 hits. Notable was Jackets defenseman Rastislav Klesla's hit on Trevor Lewis on the boards outside the right point in the Kings zone. Kyle Clifford took exception to the hit setting the stage for his fight with Derek Dorsett just seconds later at 11:02.
The Kings extended their lead to 4-0 in the second period on a two-on-one breakaway with Marco Sturm and Stoll shorthanded. As the Jackets were making a change Jack Johnson made the outlet pass to Sturm who, with only Kris Russell to beat, passed the puck over to Stoll for the goal at 7:12 in the second period. It was the third short-handed goal for the Kings this season and the second assist for Johnson in his three-assist night.
Things started coming apart for the Kings when Matt Calvert's shot was initially saved by Quick at 13:30. However the puck ended up deflecting through his own wickets and his attempt to prevent the puck from crossing the line was just a second too late.
“We didn’t test Quick until after the first goal,” Jackets left-winger Rick Nash said. “It was a mistake on their part which gave us momentum and we used it.”
His line started coming on in the third period with Nash scoring twice in the final 20 minutes, but the Kings were able to stave off the Jackets icing the game with 31 seconds left on a power-play empty-netter by Justin Williams.
“We got a little too casual again with puck management through the middle of the ice, gave them a lot of energy and gave them a lot of life the rest of the game,” Murray said.
“Bottom line is we get that win. Hopefully good things can start to happen here as we build off of this.”
During the game it was announced that defenseman Jack Johnson and the Kings agreed to a seven-year contract extension that will carry into the 2017-18 season. The 23-year old leads all Kings defensemen with four goals, 27 assists and 31 points this season. However don't tell the Indianapolis native that the Colts lost to the Jets.
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