The Kings 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday had a playoff-type feel and maybe that's what the Kings needed in their last game at home before a long road trip.
Here are a few takeaways, including Coach Darryl Sutter noting, as only he can, that the Kings have to "beat somebody to make the playoffs."
Game 7 revisited
This wasn't overtime, of course. And it wasn't Kings defenseman Alec Martinez scoring with his shot going off Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy. (Leddy is with the New York Islanders, after all.)
But there were definite similarities to that stunning finale in the Western Conference final. The Kings kept coming back in Game 7 last June in Chicago, and they rallied three times from a one-goal deficit on Wednesday night and defenseman Jake Muzzin had the game-winner, stunning the Blackhawks.
"We finished doing it the right way," Chicago Coach Joel Quenneville said. "We had a perfect third period going. We don't get the puck out when we should have gotten it clearly out.
"And they got the momentum back on that play and they scored off the faceoff. It was definitely a tough loss."
Apparently, the Kings can repeat the past. Kind of.
Importance of Tyler Toffoli
You take one of the leading scorers out of the lineup and it is going to show. Kings forward Tyler Toffoli missed six games because of mononucleosis but made a fairly quick recovery, and his return against the Blackhawks gives Sutter more options.
Sutter put Toffoli on a line with Jeff Carter and Dwight King and Toffoli had a goal and an assist. Carter had three points and King had a terrific assist on the game-tying goal.
With the two points, Toffoli has 13 goals and 29 points and is the Kings' third-leading scorer.
"I think I was a little rusty, at times," Toffoli said. "A little tired toward the end of shifts. I think it was expected. I thought I was going to feel like that. I'm glad we got the win, and it was a huge game for us."
Leadership of Jeff Carter
This was the Kings' first game since the departure of center Mike Richards, who cleared waivers on Tuesday and was set to join the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Manchester, N.H.
Richards and Carter are close friends and nearly won a Stanley Cup in their Philadelphia days before winning two Cups with the Kings. The demotion of Richards sent a message but also could create a leadership void.
Carter stepped it up in a big way, playing one of his best games of the season with two goals and an assist. He was one breakaway from securing his first hat trick of the season but was stopped by Chicago goalie Corey Crawford.
Now the Kings leave for a five-game trip, starting on Saturday in Boston.