SUNRISE, Fla. — Kings left wing Dwight King had his own definition of what was politely called a rough start on the season-opening trip to Minnesota and Winnipeg.
"I had two below-mediocre games on the road," King said. "And had a talk with the assistant coaches and just kind of got back to what helped me be successful in camp.
"That's just a little bit of confidence, a little bit of getting back to basics and it helped."
King was talking after he scored a short-handed goal, on a breakaway late in the third period, in the Kings' 2-1 shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night at Raleigh, N.C. He had three shots on goal, and his goal was a textbook example of his strength and skill.
It was his first point in five games this season and gave his confidence a much-needed boost. He had a mere one shot on goal in the first three games.
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter had called King the best left wing in training camp after he stepped up and took advantage of the opportunity to play with center Anze Kopitar and right wing Justin Williams when captain Dustin Brown missed most of training camp because of an injury.
Sutter could have taken King out of the lineup when he decided to involve left wing Daniel Carcillo in the mix, but he kept King in and took out center Colin Fraser. King, of late, has been on a line centered by Jarret Stoll but was with center Mike Richards and forward Jeff Carter at practice Saturday.
King did not score in the first 18 games last season, and so, the first goal, coming early on this four-game trip, represents a psychological lift.
"It's nice. The quicker you get the first one, it's a little bit of pressure off you," King said.
Defenseman Jake Muzzin has been supplanted in the lineup by Alec Martinez and was making no excuses about his early-season shortcomings. Muzzin, a minus-five, has been a healthy scratch the last two games.
"I've got to be better with the puck and make smarter decisions," Muzzin said. "I know it's a long season and you never know what's going to happen. You've just got to be ready."
When: Noon PDT.
Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.
On the Air: TV: FS West. Radio: 1150.
Record vs. Panthers (2012-13): Did not play.
Etc.: Center Aleksander Barkov, the second overall pick in the 2013 draft, is off to an impressive start for the Panthers. The 18-year-old from Finland has five points in five games, including three against the Penguins on Friday night.
Twitter: @reallisaCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times