First came the pomp, then the circumstance for Dustin Brown.
It took most of Thursday for the Kings to shake out of what looked like a stale loss to the Colorado Avalanche, on a night of career achievements for Brown and Marian Gaborik.
But Brown brought it to a happy end and put a bow on a 2-1 overtime win at Staples Center. He took a pass from Anze Kopitar and, on a partial breakaway 44 seconds in, snapped the puck past goalie Semyon Varlamov for the winner in his 1,000th game.
“In the big picture, it’s really nice,” Brown said. “For me, the memory is nice. But on a day-to-day, which is the main focus and how you get to a thousand games, we didn’t play very good. But good teams find a way when they maybe shouldn’t.”
Indeed, the Kings won’t put this on their mantel. They were stuck in a stalemate with the Central Division last-place Avalanche, at home, with precious few shots, let alone opportunities. Then they trailed 1-0 with nearly 50 minutes gone.
“Quite honest, our compete wasn’t where it needed to be, which may be the first time all year,” Brown said.
Alec Martinez gave the Kings life with his second goal in as many games, to make it 1-1 at 10:36 of the third period. He sent a long, high shot from just inside the blue line that hit the back of the net.
Torrey Mitchell worked the puck out to Martinez and Jonny Brodzinski screened Varlamov in a solid shift for the fourth line.
Martinez couldn’t say enough about what Brown has meant to the Kings.
“He’s been through a lot in this organization,” Martinez said. “He never wavered. He poured his heart and soul into this hockey club, and I’ll guess I’ll just say sometimes things have their way of working out and I think tonight was definitely one of those instances.”
There was a unique crossover of milestones for Gaborik and Brown for the announced crowd of 18,230. Gaborik was honored for playing his 1,000th game last week. There was pregame ceremony with a video montage dedicated to Gaborik, who received various gifts and the requisite silver stick for the achievement.
Not to be outdone was Brown, who will be formally recognized next Thursday against the Vegas Golden Knights but was given a brief video tribute during the first television timeout.
The game promptly settled into a standoff between two teams trying to push through to the NHL’s Christmas break.
The Kings were uneventful on both sides of special teams. Their power play went scoreless on its first two tries and looked poor in doing so. They also spent part of the second period killing two penalties and nearly got another when Jonathan Quick almost tried to fight Gabriel Landeskog after Landeskog appeared to knock Quick off his skates in the crease.
In between came Landeskog’s goal with more than 11 minutes expired in the period. Landeskog grabbed the puck from behind the Kings’ net, skated out to the blue line and fired a shot that beat Quick. Trevor Lewis lost his stick in a tangled heap of players and chased Landeskog without it on the play.
Gaborik briefly took the microphone during his ceremony and thanked the Kings, especially the trainers, for keeping him going. “It took me a while to get to 1,000 games, but I got here,” Gaborik said.