Game 62; 34-22-6
LOS ANGELES - After winning both of their road games to close out February, the Los Angeles Kings were looking to start off March the same way. They were up against a Carolina Hurricanes who, despite losing three-straight, could prove to be a threat. Plus, the Kings' record against teams with fewer points and also afternoon games aren't as great as they can be. But the silver-and-black were back at Staples Center for the first time since February 6. It had been a while - but it was certainly worth the wait.
Like most of their outings, the Kings put on a defensive show in a low-scoring affair. Los Angeles, however, did score first.
With just 56 seconds remaining in the first, Mike Richards found some space over (Carolina netminder) Anton Khudobin's shoulder, scoring just his second goal in 37 games to put the home team out in front. The goal was Richards's eighth of the season and was assisted by Robyn Regehr. Unfortunately, the lead was short-lived.
Andrej Sekera, who was honoured before the game along with the rest of the Olympians from both teams, took a weak point shot that took a funny bounce and past Jonathan Quick for the goal. The goal was scored just 41 seconds after Richards opened the scoring and was assisted by Riley Nash and Patrick Dwyer. If the goal took the wind out of the Los Angeles sails, however, it certainly didn't show.
In the second, the Kings and Canes went back-and-forth in a defensive battle. While the Kings had a few chances squandered, the Canes weren't much luckier. Drew Doughty, for one, played brilliantly on the defensive side of things by breaking up otherwise great-looking passing plays in addition to generally keeping the puck out of harm's way. But it wasn't all Doughty showing off his defensive muscle. Jake Muzzin, Willie Mitchell and Alec Martinez helped out as well.
Speaking of the latter, it was he who regained the Los Angeles lead.
At nearly the halfway point of the third, the Kings were on a power play and pressing hard. There was a scramble in and around the net when Dustin Brown, stationed next to the net, fed a streaking Alec Martinez at the point. No. 27 made no mistake, one-timing a blistering shot past Khudobin to put the Kings back out in front. Justin Williams recorded the second assist.
The Canes did try to tie but Jonathan Quick in his usual fashion stood tall, keeping Carolina limited to a single goal. Quick's heroics coupled with the sound play of his defense led to an empty-netter scored by former Hurricane Justin Williams who iced it with 1:01 to go in the third. Anze Kopitar and Trevor Lewis provided the assists.
Game. Set. Match. The Kings have now won four-straight games.
Overall, a solid all-round performance by the Kings that leads to another two points in the standings. They may not have had done much on five of their power plays but they came through on their sixth with Martinez's game-winner. The goal was his first since January 9 and it could not have come any sooner.
As for the captain, Dustin Brown now has points in three-straight games thanks to his contribution on said game-winner. Weeks of frustration have turned into joy when it comes to No. 23. As for Jonathan Quick, he's again solid when he has to be and that translates to another important pair of points as the Kings get set to close out their homestand on Monday night against Montreal.
Speaking of Quick, however, this win makes it the 168th of his career, moving him to within three of Rogie Vachon's franchise mark of 171. Quick can get one step closer on Monday and with the Kings have been playing as of late, that record will come sooner rather than later.