Reforming the Jeff Carter-Tyler Toffoli-Milan Lucic line helps Kings end scoring slump

Scoring four goals against Nashville, Minnesota and Winnipeg didn't get the Kings anything but three straight losses. With the playoffs in sight, Coach Darryl Sutter wanted his team to generate some offense and start moving smoothly and confidently through its final regular-season games.

His response Saturday was to bring the band back together, which in this case meant Milan Lucic, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli. The trio combined for 10 points in a 6-4 victory over the last-place Edmonton Oilers, a game that was perilously close until Carter scored into an empty net with 33 seconds left in the third period. Carter had two goals and one assist, Toffoli had two and two, and Lucic had three assists.

"Jeff Carter's line was as good as those three guys have been all year. They were outstanding," Sutter said Saturday. "Jeff was making a lot of plays out there and his speed was very evident, especially against a really fast team. It was good to see Tyler score from in close. He's had trouble in close lately scoring goals and finishing, so it's good to score some goals."

Toffoli, the team leader with 29 goals, said it was easy for him to skate alongside Carter and Lucic.

"We started the year together. We had that chemistry," Toffoli said. "We're just trying to find our game, get lots of shots." He had a team-high five shots on goal, Carter had four and Lucic had two, one-third of the overall total of 33.

But no one was completely happy, because the Kings gave up two goals in the third period to allow Edmonton to close within 5-4, and because they've allowed 15 goals in the last four games.

"I know it's great we got six tonight, but getting four against is kind of unacceptable," Lucic said. "We've got to clean that up here, with seven games before the playoffs start, because you can't just flip a switch and expect it to just happen once the playoffs start."

Toffoli agreed.

"We want to get our game 100% going into the playoffs and playing the right way," he said. "It's a good sign we're scoring big goals but at the same time we've got to tighten it up a little bit and just get better."

Etc.

Center Vinny Lecavalier played only 10 minutes 29 seconds, his lowest ice time since his second game after the Kings acquired him from Philadelphia. He had missed Thursday's game because of an injury whose nature was not disclosed. Earlier Saturday, Sutter offered an almost poetic assessment of Lecavalier's revival.

"Two months ago, three months ago, they said he was done," Sutter said. "They just didn't finish the sentence. He's done well."

Carter reached 20 goals for the eighth straight season and the ninth time in 10 NHL seasons . . . . Jonathan Quick set a career high with his third assist this season, set when he began the play that led to Trevor Lewis' shorthanded goal in the second period.

NEXT UP

KINGS AT SAN JOSE SHARKS

When: Monday, 7 p.m. PDT.

Where: SAP Center.

On the air: TV: NBCSN; Radio: 790.

Update: The Kings are 2-2 against the Sharks this season and Carter is their scoring leader in those games, with two goals and five points. Forward Kris Versteeg (ankle) won't play.

Sharks goalie Martin Jones, who was traded by the Kings to Boston and on to San Jose last summer, has thrived as a starter, compiling a 35-21-4 record with five shutouts, a 2.25 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

The Sharks need a win to clinch a playoff spot; they've squandered three chances to clinch by losing three straight games, all at home. They're 16-18-3 at SAP Center. Defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower-body injury) is not expected to play.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on March 28, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "A reunified line helps team get things together - KINGS REPORT" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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