Kings win sixth in a row as Tyler Toffoli’s speed burns the Jets, 4-1
From the time Kings center Jeff Carter won the draw in the faceoff circle, just to the left of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, it took seven seconds for the Kings to score the game-winning goal.
Tyler Toffoli made it look even faster.
Toffoli, the gifted goal scorer, reached into his cache and pulled out something new in the third period, an assist, using a burst of speed, to set up linemate Milan Lucic who was driving hard to the net. Lucic’s goal at 15 minutes 19 seconds broke a tie and helped push the Kings to a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night at MTS Centre.
For the Kings, it was their sixth straight victory, and their third road victory in three games. This was only the second time in franchise history they’ve gone 3-0-0 on the road to start; the other time was in 1989-90 back in the Wayne Gretzky Era.
The play started on an odd-man rush and finished when it looked like Toffoli’s pass glanced off the stick of Jets defenseman Tyler Myers and then off Lucic. Lucic was teased, a bit, about really getting the goal, his second of the season.
“If the video shows that it hit me, I’ll take it,” Lucic said. “But if it didn’t, it’s Tyler’s goal. Regardless of who gets it, it’s a big goal at a big moment and the one that got us that win. The most important thing out of anything, no matter who is scoring, is we got four out of four points on this road trip.
“That’s something to feel good about.”
Said Toffoli: “We just got a good jump. We had a set play there. Their [defense] was pinching in. Looch just chipped it over to me and we went to the net and it was a good play.
“… I was going to shoot it, but I saw his stick there and figured if I was going to shoot it, it was going to get tipped or blocked. And I knew he [Lucic] was going to the back post so I just threw it there.”
For the Kings, it’s been quite a turnaround after losing their first three games.
“I think we thought it was going to be easier than it was,” Lucic said. “Once we got back to the drawing board and really took a look at ourselves, as individuals and a team, in the mirror. Asked ourselves: ‘Were we really committed to playing the right way?’ That was the big question.”
Lucic has points in four consecutive games.
Toffoli had a two-point night, scoring an empty-net goal, to make it 3-1, which was his team-leading seventh goal, at 19:06. His linemate Carter chipped in with two more assists. One was on the Lucic goal and the other set up the final goal, an empty-netter by Trevor Lewis, at 19:33.
There was another goal of significance. With the Kings trailing, 1-0, defenseman Jake Muzzin tied it in the second period, at 15:50. It was the first goal by a Kings defenseman in nine games this season.
“Road games are tough no matter where you are, especially coming into this barn,” Muzzin said. “It’s a tough place to play, especially early. They come out hard. It feels like you have no space, no time because they are so aggressive.”
“It was just a loose puck, kind of squirted it out. It was kind of on edge. I figured I’d hit it as hard as I can and see what happens.”
He had some bragging rights, scoring before teammate and defenseman Drew Doughty. Doughty may not have scored but he has three assists in the last two games; he had the second assist on the Muzzin goal.
Quick, who faced 25 shots, has allowed just three goals in his last three starts. Lucic, Carter and Toffoli have been responsible for five of the Kings’ 10 goals in their last three games.
The partnership between Toffoli and Lucic might look seamless but Toffoli still sees room for improvement.
“We’re just taking it game by game, figuring it out,” Toffoli said. “There are still times in a game where I’m a little step behind him on the forecheck.”
The resume of Carter is widely known. Beyond the two Stanley Cups with the Kings, he reached the Stanley Cup Final with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 and won Olympic gold with Team Canada in Sochi in 2014.
But Lucic, playing his whole career with the Boston Bruins before the trade to Los Angeles in June, didn’t know “too much” about Toffoli’s abilities.
Well, he wasn’t staying up watching the late games.
“When you’re in the Eastern Conference … you realize when you’re in the East, the 7:30 games Pacific time,” said Lucic, smiling. “I have two kids. I’m in bed already.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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