So much for whimpering into the December night. The Kings emerged Thursday with an ending fit for an auteur.
In a listless game by their own admission, the Kings pulled out a 2-1 overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche as if on cue from the hockey heavens. Dustin Brown’s goal 44 seconds into overtime happened in his 1,000th game, which was also on a night when Marian Gaborik was celebrated for his 1,000th game last week.
Here’s what we learned:
The value of Dustin Brown’s leadership is immeasurable. It was clear from the Kings’ celebration that this was more than an overtime win. Brown has been a glue player for the franchise, from the dark years of the 2000s to two Stanley Cup wins. Through that, Brown has been the subject of trade rumors, lost his captaincy and experienced a career rebirth.
That’s why his teammates mobbed him.
“I think when you sit down with your team and get to know your team, you just understand how important he is to your team and how well respected he is to your team,” Kings coach John Stevens said.
Resiliency shouldn’t be needed this much. The win has the Kings tied for first in the NHL in a category they aren’t really comfortable occupying. It was their fourth win when trailing entering the third period (4-8-3).
That shows resiliency but it also shines a light on a lopsided aggregate of their scoring. The Kings have been outscored 34-26 in the first period and have outscored opponents 47-21 in the third period.
“We’ve been behind a lot this year,” Brown said. “Our first periods haven’t been our best. Our third periods have been really good. It would be nice to play with the lead.”
The work of the fourth line was unsung. Alec Martinez scored the Kings’ first goal but it was the result of work by the line of Torrey Mitchell, Jonny Brodzinski and Andy Andreoff. They got the puck down low and Mitchell got it out to Martinez at the point.
“I thought the Mitchell line was terrific in that situation,” Stevens said. “They got out there, they won some battles. They turned some pucks over. … They won races to the net. It was almost the type of goal we needed.”