After the Kings had squandered a 2-0 lead,
Kopitar became the first player other than Gaborik and Carter to succeed in a shootout, also baffling.
"Everybody was confident we could do it,"
Gaborik said in a postgame interview shown on the Staples Center video screen. "It was a great performance by every individual."
The Kings had dominated the first period with their size and the skill of their top two lines, holding Montreal without a shot for more than 10 minutes. But the Kings lost their verve while the
“We let them get back in the game,” center
"It's just a big two points to be able to come back and tie it late, to finally win a shootout. To finally score in a shootout."
The victory was essential to the Kings' playoff hopes because Calgary and Minnesota, two of the teams they're chasing, both won on Thursday. The Kings remain ninth in the West.
The Kings outshot the Canadiens, 13-2, in the opening period and emerged with a 2-0 lead. Gaborik scored the first goal on a play that required considerable skill. The Kings were on the power play when
Carter padded the lead to 2-0 with his fourth goal in three games. It was set up by
"We should have been up 3- or 4-0," Coach Darryl Sutter said. "We didn't put it away when we had glorious opportunities to do it in the second period."
The Canadiens, who lost at Anaheim on Wednesday, found the energy to score twice in the second period. Defenseman
"We had a good start, we were all over them in the first half of the game, and then we let it get away from us a little bit," Gaborik said. "It was a battle for 65-plus minutes, and the shootout was the difference."
And in a positive way, for once.
The Kings saved the best for last, as they've done twice in the past three seasons in claiming the Cup. It's a long way from here to there, but their victory Thursday meant they still have a better than reasonable chance to get back to the playoffs and do it again.