Nate Thompson blocked a shot with his knee. A prone Derek Forbort punched the puck out of harm’s way with his glove after he lost his stick.
The element that had been missing in the Kings’ game — desire, desperation — came alive during a first-period penalty kill Tuesday.
Other parts unfolded well. They got goals by three of their four lines, namely Dustin Brown, Kyle Clifford and Ilya Kovalchuk, against probably the best goalie in the NHL this season in the Ducks’ John Gibson. It wasn’t a season-defining performance, but a 4-1 win at Staples Center properly kicked off the tenure of new Kings coach Willie Desjardins.
Jeff Carter saved the puck for Desjardins, who had more impatience than nerves beforehand.
“It was good to get back,” Desjardins said. “You’re sitting there and you’re waiting in the room and it’s like the game’s never going to start. It’s been a while since I’ve been on that bench. The pace was good, and there’s some heavy boys on both teams.”
The Kings won two games in a row for the first time this season while the Ducks took their eighth loss in nine games. Jake Muzzin stamped the win with a leveling of the Ducks’ Kiefer Sherwood in the third period.
“The emotion was visible but also, you could hear it too,” Kings goalie Jack Campbell said. “I think everybody was excited and fired up.”
Desjardins’ first game day began with his team tied for last in the NHL with nine points. The Kings also lacked a successful track record against Gibson, who had won nine of 12 against them, with a 1.79 goals-against average.
It was Campbell who helped post the third Kings goal, though, with a long stretch pass that Tyler Toffoli fed to Kovalchuk for a 3-0 lead.
“I just thought it’d be a smart play to throw it up, and Ty made a great play to chip it over to Kovy,” said Campbell, who recorded his first career assist.
Clifford finished a rush that was helped when Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm lost an edge as he chased the action. Alec Martinez laid out a centering pass that Clifford smoothly backhanded past Gibson.
Desjardins wants that balance throughout the lines and said his players adjusted well to that approach.
“I thought they tried to buy in,” Desjardins said. “I thought they tried what we wanted them to do.”
The Kings are 3-1 since Brown made his season debut. Their power play’s more organized with him in front, and that’s where he batted in a puck that Kovalchuk backhanded into the crease 6:25 into the game.
The Ducks got Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler in the lineup after both were deemed game-time decisions by coach Randy Carlyle. But Kesler got their only goal, and Carlyle cited something familiar to the Kings.
“I didn’t think we had the intensity that was required early in the hockey game,” Carlyle said. “It took us kind of halfway through the game before we got ourselves awake and it was frustrating for the first half.”
Kesler ended Campbell’s shutout bid at 13:21 with a deflection of Marcus Pettersson’s point shot. The Ducks couldn’t score with Gibson pulled, or before.
“They shut it down pretty good in the third there, once they got up a couple of goals,” Patrick Eaves said.