The 2012 Stanley Cup champions reeled off their sixth straight
win Thursday night and fifth since the Sochi Olympic break with a
dominating 3-1 road victory over the Winnipeg Jets.
The scoreboard showed a considerably closer game than was witnessed
by yet another sell-out crowd of 15,003 at the MTS Centre, as the
Kings outshot the hosts 41-18 and held a large edge in scoring
chances, including ringing several off the posts.
The win improved the Kings' record to 36-22-6 and dropped the Jets
Kings center Jeff Carter said his team has turned things around
since losing nine of 11 games before the Olympics.
"We knew we had to get going in the right direction. Guys came back
from the break energized and ready to roll. This is the time when
you make your season. We've been in it before and we're ready," he
And if the Kings are flying high now, just wait until newly-acquired
right winger Marian Gaborik gets comfortable in his new
surroundings. The newest King, who arrived from Columbus on
Wednesday, had three shots in nearly 17 minutes of ice time,
including nearly five minutes on the power play.
The 32-year-old Slovakian was given a baptism by fire in the last
30-plus hours, meeting new teammates and new linemates and digesting
as much of the Kings' system as possible.
"It's been hectic. Everything happens fast. I got (to the team) in
the morning and had some meetings, then the morning skate
(Thursday). I'm going to settle in and get back at it on Sunday
(against Edmonton)," he said.
Carter said the team was buoyed by the acquisition and he is looking
forward to seeing what Gaborik can do down the stetch.
"I thought he was good tonight. You can tell when he gets the puck
he's a highly-skilled player. He's got a lot of speed and he knows
where to go to score goals. He had a couple of chances tonight. It's
going to take a few games to get settled in," he said.
Kings center Mike Richards scored the winner at 16:15 of the second
period after he stepped in front of Jets center Olli Jokinen to pick
off an errant pass from defenseman Toby Enstrom and wired a slap
shot high to the glove side of goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.
The Jets opened the scoring courtesy of Jokinen, who banged home a
goalmouth pass from left winger Evander Kane for his 13th of the
season at 12:03 of the second period. Newly-resigned defenseman Mark
Stuart earned the second assist.
It took just 42 seconds for the Kings to respond when winger Dustin
Brown directed center Jarret Stoll's pass off his skates past
Pavelec for his 12th goal of the year. The play was reviewed but it
was determined Brown did not use a distinct kicking motion.
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Kings defenseman Alec Martinez scored the insurance marker at 16:51
of the third period on the power play with Jets right winger Blake
Wheeler off with a high-sticking penalty.
Jets coach Paul Maurice liked the speed with which his troops
started the game but was disappointed that the Kings dictated things
as the game wore on, particularly after the Jets got the game's
"We ran into the L.A. Kings when they're at their best. They will
take your game and frustrate you until you start to change what
you're trying to do because nothing is given easily and they're
dangerous. They complete so many close-area plays," he said.
Maurice said there are two kinds of confidence in hockey, the
individual kind and the kind a team has in a style of play. It's the
latter where his team needs some work.
"You saw it in the way we moved the puck and our feet as the game
went on. We held on to it for just a half second (too long) and it
wasn't sharp and it wasn't fast. We started to do so many more
things with our feet not moving, that's the kiss of death against
them. By the time the decision gets made and the puck moved, they've
set their defense from a position that they can just jump on you,"
For a team chasing the final wildcard playoff spot in the Western
Division, the loss to the Kings put a dent in the Jets' odds of
making the postseason, but Maurice said his squad is going to have
to get used to playing playoff-type games.
"There's a gear change after the Olympic break. We're in that now.
It's a different kind of game that's going to be played now. The
fact we're chasing, it hurts more every time you lose," he said.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter did not speak to the media following the
NOTES: The Jets played their first game without rookie C Mark
Scheifele, who was injured in the team's 3-2 overtime loss to the
New York Islanders on Tuesday. The center is out six to eight weeks
with an MCL injury but does not require surgery. ... The Kings made
one of the biggest splashes at the trade deadline, acquiring RW
Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for RW
Matt Frattin. ... The Jets' primary move at the deadline was signing
D Mark Stuart to a four-year, $10.5 million extension. ... Los
Angeles is the only NHL city the Jets have not been to since the
beginning of the 2011-12 season. That will change later when the
Kings play host at Staples Center on March 29.
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