Asked Thursday morning to explain why the Kings had lost five of their previous six games, defenseman Drew Doughty couldn't come up with an explanation. But he was sure of one thing: no matter their problems, they would soon correct what was wrong.
“We can get out of this. We went through these little slumps before. This one might be a little bigger than we're used to,” he said. “That just makes it a bigger challenge.
“And that's what's awesome about this team: When we're given a challenge, we rise to the occasion and we overcome that challenge.”
That's what they did Thursday night in rallying for a 6-4 victory over the St. Louis Blues at Staples Center. Center Anze Kopitar contributed a career-best five points on a goal and four assists, forward Jeff Carter contributed his first goal since Nov. 18 as well as three assists, and winger Marian Gaborik scored twice as the Kings came back after giving up the game's first three goals and rekindling thoughts of their 5-2 loss at St. Louis on Tuesday.
“Some of the teams would probably pack it in after the 3-0, but not this team,” Kopitar said. “We have a lot of character. We have a lot of guys that care about each other and like playing for each other. I think that's the big part where we came back.”
However, this wasn't a total victory because the Kings lost rugged defenseman Robyn Regehr to an upper-body injury during the second period. Coach Darryl Sutter said Regehr “blocked a shot and tried to come back and then did not return,” but offered no details. For the Kings, who have had to cobble their defense together all season because of injuries and the indefinite suspension of Slava Voynov, losing Regehr would be an obstacle.
But then again, what others see as problems, they see as opportunities.
“Obviously, it was too bad we lost Reggie, but we battled back for him,” Gaborik said. “We were confident we can come back. We never quit.”
The game was surprisingly high-scoring, given the credentials of the two goaltenders. Between them, Martin Brodeur of St. Louis and Jonathan Quick of the Kings have five Stanley Cup championships (three for Brodeur and two for Quick), two Olympic gold medals (Brodeur) and one Conn Smythe trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs (Quick), yet both were shaky. Brodeur, signed by the Blues to replace the injured Brian Elliott, looked slow and constantly left juicy rebounds. Brodeur, who started for the New Jersey Devils in 2012 when the Kings beat them in the Stanley Cup Final, looked particularly bad on the Kings' final goal, a shot by Dwight King from just over the red line that took an odd hop and sailed over Brodeur's shoulder at 12:06 of the third.
“It's one of those bounces that have never happened to me before,” said Brodeur, whose NHL-leading career wins total stayed at 690.
The Kings (16-11-6) will take any favorable bounce they get. “I think sometimes you just need one of these games to go right for you, even though you give up a few,” Kopitar said.
The Blues scored two of their first three goals with a man advantage. David Backes scored on a power-play deflection at 13:12, Dmitrij Jaskin scored from the slot at even strength at 14:23, and Kevin Shattenkirk blasted a one-timer past Quick from the left circle during a power play.
The Kings got one goal back before the period ended, on a power play. Brodeur made the first save on a shot by Carter, but the rebound came to Gaborik, who scored from deep on the left side.
Kopitar cut the Blues' lead to 3-2 at 6:14 of the second period as the trailer on a rush with Gaborik and Carter, and the Kings pulled even at 15:41 of the second period, during a power play, when Gaborik corralled the rebound of a shot by Doughty. Jori Lehtera sliced a backhand past Quick to put the Blues back ahead, 4-3, but Carter brought the Kings even on a feed from Kopitar 20 seconds into the third period. Defenseman Jake Muzzin made a slick fake around Bouwmeester and put the Kings ahead for good at 8:58 of the third.
“We showed character. I think we all know that it's in here,” Kopitar said. “We're definitely not going to go away quietly.”