One of the more devastating Kings losses this season ended up serving as a building block for the crucial stretch run.
Their third-period stumble at Florida on Feb. 5 served as a teachable moment and they haven't lost since that night of crucial miscues, winning five consecutive games.
"We gradually got a little better as the trip went on," left wing Dwight King said. "We built our game from the [All-Star] break on. That was an eye-opener [in Florida]; how quick things can change if you don't prepare every shift."
Through a quirk in the schedule, the Kings have yet to play Colorado. They face the Avalanche three times this season, starting Wednesday night in Denver. The Avalanche trails the Kings by five points in the Western Conference race and, as well as the Kings have played of late, any slips against Colorado could prove costly.
What also has helped spark the Kings is the resurgence of King. They needed an adequate replacement on the left side of the second line after rookie forward Tanner Pearson suffered a broken leg in mid-January and required surgery.
King's chemistry with center Jeff Carter and right wing Tyler Toffoli evolved as he adjusted and his confidence increased. The line has combined for 20 points in the last four games. King has recorded seven points in those games, a far cry from the start of the season when he had one assist in the first seven games and was a healthy scratch on Nov. 15 against the Ducks.
"When you play with different players, you get to know their tendencies and what they're really good at," King said. "Carts is really fast and really effective up the middle and Tyler is creative with the puck and deceptive. For myself, it's hard work, being better in battles and things that can bring more offensive zone time for the three of us.
"Confidence is climbing, that's for sure, and that's nice. It's one of those things you have to take game by game. It can go away as fast as it came."
KINGS at COLORADO
On the air: TV: NBC Sports Network; Radio: 790.
Etc.: This will be the homecoming for the Kings' Nick Shore, who has two assists in 11 games. He grew up in Colorado and played three seasons at the University of Denver. His ice time has been trending upward, from 7 minutes 16 seconds against Tampa Bay on Feb. 7 to 10:36 in Monday's 3-2 victory over the Lightning at Staples Center.
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