Game 75; 44-25-6
LOS ANGELES – Kicking off their three-game homestand, the Los Angeles Kings were looking to get off to the best start possible. They couldn’t have started any better than they did on Saturday night as they scored three first-period goals on the Winnipeg Jets, ultimately defeating them by a 4-2 score and, in the process, earning their sixth-straight victory.
For the Jets, they were looking to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. On Saturday, they welcomed netminder Ondrej Pavelec back from injury. Unfortunately for the Czech, this was not the return he had in mind.
Just 2:42 into the contest, Trevor Lewis scored his sixth to open the scoring from Kyle Clifford and Jake Muzzin. Then, at the 7:53 mark, Anze Kopitar tipped in a Marian Gaborik shot to put the Kings up by a pair – and they weren’t done there.
With just over two minutes to go in the first, Kopitar netted his second of the night (24th of the season) to put the silver-and-black up by three. Marian Gaborik registered his second assist on the goal with Willie Mitchell providing the second helper.
After allowing three goals on 16 shots in the first period, Ondrej Pavelec did not return for the second. Instead, Al Montoya took over in the Winnipeg net and even played a bit better. In the second, the Kings only outshot the Jets by a 7-4 margin in what turned out to be a scoreless period.
In the third, the Jets played anything like a team with their backs to the wall. Instead, Matt Halischuk put Winnipeg on the board just 1:54 into the third.
Even after Tyler Toffoli’s 12th (from Tanner Pearson and Willie Mitchell) regained Los Angeles’s three-goal lead just minutes later, the Jets still were not ready to quit. Instead, with the Jets on the power play, Blake Wheeler notched his 26th at 8:56 of the frame to cut the lead in half.
The Jets did outshoot the Kings 11-6 in the third but could not muster any more offense as Jonathan Quick stood tall, making 24 saves while his defensive unit in front of him was solid when they had to be, clearing away critical chances out of harm’s way.
In their first season as division rivals, the Kings take their season series over the Jets 2-1.
With the victory, the Kings earn their sixth-straight win while moving 10 points up on the Phoenix Coyotes for third in the Pacific with the Desert Dogs losing to Minnesota earlier in the evening. With both end results, Los Angeles’s magic number to clinch third in their division is five points while clinching a playoff spot is six points away.
They may have slowed down a tad in the late going of Saturday’s contest but their fast start made up for it as the Los Angeles Kings pick up their 44th win of the season, just two shy of their franchise record with seven games to go.
In addition, Saturday’s end result marks the 1499th victory in franchise history for the Los Angeles Kings. They can reach No. 1500 on Monday when they play host to the Minnesota Wild.