The Kings have given up more goals than they’ve scored this season, which doesn’t sound like a recipe for success. But the team has gutted out some tough games over the last three weeks, the last a 3-2 overtime win against the Nashville Predators on Thursday that pulled them to within a point of St. Louis in the race for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.
“This time of year they find ways. A whole crew of them have won two Stanley Cups,” Jarome Iginla, picked up in a trade 10 days ago, said of his new teammates, who rallied twice from one-goal deficits. “The leadership that they have, they get in these tight games and they seem to like them even more.”
Here are a few more things we learned Thursday:
1. Iginla has been a more useful addition than Ben Bishop
Bishop, a Vezina-caliber goaltender in the prime of his career, was acquired from Tampa Bay to back up Jonathan Quick and give the Kings the best goalie tandem in the NHL. Iginla, a 39-year-old future Hall of Famer averaging less than 15 minutes of ice time a game, was acquired from Colorado to … well, we’re not exactly sure what he was expected to add.
So far, however, the winger has won more games than the goalie, with Iginla’s two power-play goals Thursday — the second one in overtime — giving the Kings an important playoff-stretch win. Bishop, meanwhile, is 0-2 in his starts with the Kings, having allowed six goals in the losses.
“It feels good, especially with a new team and being with the guys and to be able to try to find some way to contribute,” said Iginla, whose two goals gave him 621 for his career.
“He’s scored a lot of power-play goals in his career,” Coach Darryl Sutter said. “You should look it up. I think it’s close to 200.”
We did look it up and it is close to 200. With the two Thursday, Iginla has 196 power-play scores in his career.
2. The Kings’ special teams are indeed special
All three Kings goals Thursday came on the power play, giving them seven goals with the man advantage in their last four games. That’s the most consecutive games in which the Kings have scored a power-play goal this season, and it’s the first time they’ve had multiple power-play goals in consecutive games since 2014. And they’ve been even better on the penalty kill, allowing just two goals in 50 chances dating to Jan. 21, the best kill percentage in the league. Over that 20-game stretch, the Kings have outscored opponents 13-2 on the special teams.
The Kings’ 85.2% success rate on the PK this season ranks third in the NHL and first in the Western Conference.
3. The Kings are proving scrappy down the stretch
The Kings have won just two of their last seven games in regulation. But by taking four of those games to overtime, the team picked up eight points in those seven games to stay in the thick of the playoff race.
And eight of the last 10 games have been decided by one goal.
“There’s a lot of work left to do,” Iginla said. “But the guys enjoy these types of games and are used to them.”