Friday, March 07, 2014
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Kings dominate Jets at MTS Centre

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[March 07, 2014]  WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Count the Los Angeles Kings in favor of NHL players going to the next Olympics.

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 to 30-27-7.

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 said.

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 first goal.

"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," he said.

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 game.

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.

[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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