Out of nowhere, it turned into throwback night, albeit unannounced, at Staples Center.
Old-school hockey was on display Saturday night, giving fans a glimpse of what life in the NHL looked like before that dreaded four-letter word entered the vocabulary of coaches.
Instead, a five-letter word was more suitable in the Kings’ 7-3 victory against the lowly Washington Capitals before a sellout crowd of 18,118.
Goals, goals, goals.
Two men in the building were not happy with the retro look -- King Coach Andy Murray and his Washington counterpart, Bruce Cassidy. Murray’s mantra is not allowing more than 23 shots on goal, and the Capitals got past that mark after just two periods with 25.
So, what exactly was that defense?
“It was kind of that circle-the-wagon concept,” Murray said, looking amused. “Circle around in your own zone. We certainly weren’t as disciplined, but then again, you have to give the Capitals credit. They have such strong individual skills, it can make it difficult for you to stay in that structure. And they pulled us out of it.”
This game was full of twists and turns, fights and frights. The King goals came in bunches: three in less than a four-minute span in the second period, and two more on consecutive shots in the third period.
They were led by right wing Ziggy Palffy, who scored twice, and center Mike Cammalleri, who turned in his second two-goal performance in his last five games. Left wing Alexander Frolov had one goal and added two assists, and winger Trent Klatt added a goal and an assist.
The other King goal came from recently acquired Martin Straka. Six players had multipoint games, and the Kings have won four of their last five games.
Palffy’s first goal, which came on a shorthanded breakaway, at 6:41 of the third, gave the Kings a 5-3 lead and some breathing room. It was his seventh of the season, and he beat goaltender Olaf Kolzig between the pads with a backhander.
Kolzig would last only another 1:12. Cammalleri’s second goal of the game came on the power play at 7:53. He wheeled into the right circle and his shot went off a Capital defenseman, past Kolzig on the glove side.
An angered Kolzig smashed his stick, but he wouldn’t need another one. He was replaced by rookie Rastislav Stana after allowing six goals on 31 shots. The Kings had 37 shots to the Capitals’ 33.
After the goal-scoring explosion, it was hard to believe the Kings had trailed, 2-0, only 4:21 into the game. Defenseman Sergei Gonchar scored at 2:56, and former King center Robert Lang added a power-play goal at 4:21.
Though goaltender Roman Cechmanek had allowed two goals on six shots, it would not turn into a repeat of when he was pulled on Tuesday at St. Louis.
“It was terrible,” Cechmanek said. “It was the same start like St. Louis. I just kept focused on the game and we stepped up in the first period and scored the first goal. It was a nice game for the people watching. I think everyone had a fun night.”
Cechmanek added to the excitement by leaving the crease, getting tied up behind the net and battling for the puck near the end of the second period. His foray seemed to last forever.
“We’re going to tie him to the net a little bit. He certainly made it exciting for everybody,” Murray said.
“It was interesting. We had a meeting to go over that with our defensemen and Roman yesterday, to talk about how we were going to handle those pucks and how he would play them. He must want another meeting.”
The scratches were center Brad Chartrand and forward Kip Brennan. Afterward, center Ian Laperriere, who has missed six games because of a concussion, said that he has been cleared by doctors to resume skating for the first time and is planning on practicing today. However, he is not ready for contact. His last game was Nov. 25 against New Jersey.... For every goal rookie winger Dustin Brown scores this season, he will donate $500 to Childrens Hospital in Los Angeles, the team announced.