Kings get away clean with 3-2 win in Boston
In other seasons the Kings probably would have lost this game.
They would have been swamped by Boston’s second-period push, and their penalties -- including 19 minutes against Wayne Simmonds for avenging Mark Stuart’s hard but clean hit on Anze Kopitar -- would have halted their momentum.
On Saturday, as has happened so often this season, the Kings took another significant step forward in their evolution.
Despite falling behind early in the third period, they earned a 3-2 victory over Boston in a six-round shootout at TD Garden, extending their winning streak to five games and rising to fifth in the West in a game that featured a lot of grit and a dose of larceny.
Asked if the Kings had stolen the win because they didn’t play up to their recent standard and sagged in the second period while being outshot, 13-7, Kopitar wasn’t sure.
“Uh, yeah. Maybe,” said Kopitar, who got help in the form of a screen by Michal Handzus when his power-play shot from the top of the circle tied the score at 2 at 4:29 of the third period.
“It wasn’t a full robbery,” said Kopitar, who scored one of the Kings’ two shootout goals on Tim Thomas with a dazzling one-handed move, “but it was a little steal.”
A little steal with big impact. The Kings are 4-0 on this trip heading into today’s finale at New Jersey and they’ve won six straight on the road starting Dec. 31 at Minnesota. The club record for consecutive road wins is eight, from Dec. 18, 1974, through Jan. 16, 1975.
They scored twice on the power play, becoming the first team to do that against the Bruins since Boston’s seventh game this season. And goaltender Jonathan Quick, a Connecticut native who had 20 friends and relatives in the stands, improved his career shootout record to 12-4 and recorded his career-best fifth straight victory.
He stopped a slap shot by Zdeno Chara in the first round of the shootout and Kopitar scored by drawing Thomas down and reaching around him. Michael Ryder kept Boston in it with a successful wrist shot in the third round.
Marc Savard and Ryan Smyth scored in the fourth round, but that was it until Jarret Stoll, shooting second in the sixth round, snapped a shot past a visibly frustrated Thomas and consigned the Bruins to their seventh straight loss.
“We get down a goal or two goals and we don’t get frustrated. We battle back and find a way to win,” said Quick, who made 31 saves over 65 minutes.
“We’ve done that time and time again this year. I said at the beginning of the year that we have a lot of character in this locker room and it really showed tonight.”
All four goals leading up to the shootout were the result of power plays.
The Kings scored at 12:06 of the first period when Kopitar took a touch pass from Stoll and unleashed a long shot that was redirected by Dustin Brown. But they lost an apparent goal because Simmonds’ stick was above the height of the crossbar, and they lost Simmonds for 19 minutes when he went after Mark Stuart after the Bruins defenseman leveled Kopitar at the blue line.
“I just saw him get hurt and those are my first instincts,” said Simmonds, whose tab included an extra unsportsmanlike conduct minor for instigating a fight while wearing a face shield. “I did what I had to do.”
The Bruins tied it at 15:16 of the second period after a clearing pass by Drew Doughty hit linesman Jonny Murray and stayed in the zone. It caromed back toward the slot and eventually to Marco Sturm, who held onto it before firing a wrist shot past Quick.
Boston went ahead at 1:20 of the third period on a one-timer by Mark Recchi, but the Kings weren’t done. With Boston’s David Krejci serving a hooking penalty, Kopitar got a pass from Handzus and scored from the top of the circle.
“Tonight we had a bad second period. We took too many penalties and let them back in the game but we found a way to win,” Stoll said. “That’s what we’ve been doing. That’s what we have to do.”
Their to-do list includes continuing this roll and finishing the trip with a perfect record. Since losing the first three games of their last homestand they’ve won seven of eight, an impressive display.
“When we left we realized it was desperation time. We were in eighth place and pretty much everyone behind us was winning,” Simmonds said. “So I think we realized that and we’ve been digging deep lately and we’ve been getting the two points.”
Even if it sometimes takes a little larceny.