-- The Kings still have that knack for turning the worst disadvantages into advantages. They had lost seven straight shootouts after winning their first of the season and their shooters were merely two for 28 — with only Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter having succeeded -- but they pulled one out Thursday night when it was pretty nearly imperative because Calgary and Minnesota had won.
Gaborik and Carter scored, Tyler Toffoli didn’t, but Anze Kopitar did, giving the Kings a victory they needed in order to keep pace in the still-tight playoff race.
Coach Darryl Sutter said he had consulted goaltending coach Bill Ranford during the game to ask about a potential shootout lineup.
“Gabby was hot so it was good to see him go in,” Sutter said. “I asked Billy after the second period who we should use and the coaches all agreed those would be the three guys and then Kopi, so we were right on two of the three.”
Sutter, incidentally, coached his 1,002nd game, moving him ahead of Billy Reay for 16th on the all-time list of games coached.
“There’s no ‘must’ anywhere,” Sutter said. "You don’t have to do anything. You try and win. There is no such thing as a must win. Nobody gets locked up or thrown in the ocean or anything like that. Other than that, it’s just a game.”
-- The Kings are still prone to defensive lapses but they continue to come up big at the right times. Gaborik was the big-moment player Thursday.
“He has that poise late in the game,” defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “He doesn’t force any plays and he takes advantage of what he’s given. It’s coming down to the crunch where we need our big guys, along with everyone else, to chip in, and we got those key moments tonight.”