When pressed — and when fresh after a few days off to heal their bumps and bruises — the Kings can play the formidable defensive game that has been the foundation of their success the last three seasons. After squandering a late lead over Pacific division rival Calgary Dec. 22 they were intent on retaining their 3-1 lead over Pacific rival San Jose on Saturday.
“They’re a division rival, so when you get points against them it’s more than just two points. It’s huge,” defenseman Drew Doughty said. “We need to be moving up in the playoff standings and moving up in the division, and in order to do that we need to beat division teams.”
-- Anze Kopitar might have lost his goal-scoring touch, but he hasn’t lost his sense of humor or class. Kopitar converted the rebound of a shot by Marian Gaborik that had been stopped by Sharks goaltender Antti Niemi in the second period for only his eighth goal this season — but his second in four games if you want to look at it that way.
Goals haven’t exactly been plentiful for him, but he’s confident that will change as he continues to adjust to his linemates, Gaborik and Jeff Carter.
“Thanks for pointing that out,” he said, but with a smile. “It’s coming along right now. It seems like we’re making some good plays and we’re getting some opportunities. Even in the first we didn’t score but we had some chances off the rush. We’re building up the chemistry and we’re getting to know each other, those small details on the ice, and that’s why we’re creating chances.”
-- The Kings’ power play suddenly has become a weapon. They’ve scored one power-play goal in each of the last five games (they’re 10 for 23 in that span), and they’ve scored two or more power-play goals in four straight games for the first time since March 4-11, 1993, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Of the 10 power-play goals, Gaborik has scored five, Jake Muzzin has two, and Kopitar, Martinez and Jamie McBain have each scored one. Overall, their power play has had a 20.6% success rate, which ranked eighth in the NHL through Saturday’s games. Power-play success tends to come in spurts, but the Kings will ride this as long as they can.