After nearly 56 minutes brimming with saves and shrinking space, the ice opened up and the
Gaborik shook goaltender
After Lewis’ goal, Ward slammed his stick into the ground next to the Hurricanes’ bench. Kings (24-21-4) goaltender
"The difference in most games, and just about every game," Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said, "is big saves and bad goals."
The Kings already passed 41 games — which officially marks the midway point of the 82-game season — but Thursday provided another checkpoint of a volatile season. They still have not won three straight since a five-game winning streak in late November. The last 49 games have been filled with scoring droughts, handicapping injuries and occasional stretches of spotty goaltending with Jonathan Quick on the mend.
The next 33 contests, which will come after this weekend's All-Star break, provide a chance to find consistency. Two wins on the back end of a four-game trip provide a good jumping off point.
"We're right back in the playoff picture," Doughty said. "Not that we were really out of it, but the more games you lose you're just getting more and more out of it. So it was a great win, we stuck together with it. I thought they kind of outplayed us the first two periods and [Budaj] made some amazing saves for us to keep us in it, and we came with a flurry at them at the end."
Budaj, who started the season with the Ontario Reign in the
Ward, who was lightly tested by the Kings offense, nearly kept pace for the whole game. Budaj, conversely, was blitzed by the Hurricanes and their speedy forwards from the start. He repeatedly lay out in front of the crease. He shifted from post to post as the Hurricanes knocked the puck around. He took a handful of realistic scoring chances and turned them into dust.
The best one came off the stick of Sebastian Aho in the left slot. Aho’s wrist shot clipped
"Thank God it didn't go in," Budaj said, grinning, of Aho's chance. "There are a lot of those where you say wow, you should be thankful for that because that doesn't happen often."
The same could be said for the journeyman goalie between the pipes.