Road victory No. 6 did not come without a few nervous moments for the Kings on Saturday night in Tampa.
"When we were up 3-0, we should have never let them back in the game," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "We weren't happy we let them get two more…to get that fourth [goal] was huge. It kind of puts a stamp on it."
A few takeaways from their first victory in four games as they handed the Lightning their first loss at home since Dec. 9. Tampa Bay had won 10 straight games at home.
Fast start paves the way, for once
A goal, by Tyler Toffoli, and the game wasn't even two minutes old? Two goals on three shots? Three goals on nine shots?
Yes, this was the Kings doing the early damage and forcing the Lightning to switch goalies for the start of the second period.
They've rarely had such a spirited opening period on the road this season. Maybe Kings GM Dean Lombardi needs to persuade his Toronto counterpart Dave Nonis to attend more Kings' games.
Big-game performances by Doughty, Regehr
Certainly Doughty, the Kings' No. 1 defenseman, was a formidable presence with four hits and four blocked shots. That's almost expected of him, especially after they had to drop to five defensemen when Alec Martinez left early because of an injury.
Obviously Doughty can't do it alone.
Veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr recorded significant ice time and was a factor in both ends, recording two assists and blocking two shots and recording two hits.
His ice time was almost Doughty-like. Doughty had a team-high 29 minutes, 50 seconds of ice time but that's not unprecedented. Regehr had big minutes too, playing 29 minutes, a season high for him.
"It doesn't make a lot of difference for Drew, he's a 30-minute-a-night guy anyways," center Anze Kopitar said. "Greener (Matt Greene) … everybody stepped up and played a huge role back there."
Justin Williams' continued sense of timing
The man of many nicknames – Mr. Game 7, Stick and JWill – has a way of delivering at crucial points. His two goals sparked the Kings and kept them from losing even more ground in the playoff race.
Could this turn the season around for the struggling Kings?
"I would like to hope so," Doughty said. It was a very critical win. We need to turn the season around. We've been saying it long enough, starting to get annoying, really. It just needs to happen."
The Western Conference playoff race will be changing constantly. Los Angeles pulled within three points of a wild-card spot with the win over the Lightning. Hours later, though, the Canucks crushed Pittsburgh in the late game in Vancouver and moved into third place in the Pacific Division, meaning the Kings were five points out of a wild-card playoff spot. Calgary now holds the last wild-card spot … for the moment.