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What we learned from the Kings’ overtime defeat of Hurricanes

Kings center Tyler Toffoli (center) is congratulated by teammates after scoring against the Hurricans in the second period Saturday at Staples Center.
(Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

These third periods are starting to get slightly more dramatic than the Kings would like, but they’re doing their most clutch work with flair.

For the second straight game, the Kings lost a lead late in the third period and needed overtime to extend their winning streak. It reached eight games after a 3-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at Staples Center, thanks to Tanner Pearson’s overtime goal with 20 seconds left.

Here’s what we learned:

The schedule caught up to the Kings

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It’s a common reason, or excuse, that coaches use for poor play or losing spells, but it is appropriate for the Kings. They’ve played every other day since Nov. 28, which constitutes seven games in 12 days. Those legs are bound to get rubbery, and Kings coach John Stevens saw it firsthand.

“I think we looked a little bit tired tonight,” Stevens said. “I just felt that the schedule caught up with us a little bit coming off the road, and then playing every other day. The guys have been terrific. I don’t think you can fault their effort on any night.”

The new line looked good

The Kings could probably put Anze Kopitar with two pool sticks and he would somehow get 20 goals out of each of them. But Stevens’ move to put Kopitar with Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson paid dividends Saturday. The line produced both regulation goals and generally were the most consistent threat.

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Kopitar has been with Alex Iafallo and Dustin Brown almost exclusively this season. Stevens made the switch to get a better defensive matchup against Jordan Staal’s line, and he felt that Toffoli and Pearson had the legs to do it.

“I thought they were two of our better players tonight,” Stevens said. “Kopi’s a good player no matter who you put him with, but when those guys are going, it really helped us.”

Carolina is a tough out

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One of the most nondescript teams in the NHL, the Hurricanes come through town once a season and remind fans why they’re so easily overlooked. They are struggling this season but remain a tough forechecking and cycle team that can lull an opponent into its game and pull out wins by sticking to their system.

Carolina grabbed hold of the final 10 minutes of the game and didn’t let the Kings have the puck when it pulled goalie Scott Darling for an extra attacker in the final minutes. It was a resilient effort to force overtime and get one point out of the game.

“That’s a pretty good hockey team there,” Stevens said.

sports@latimes.com

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