Kings lose to Jets, but comeback isn’t completely pointless

Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin, left, and Winnipeg right wing Blake Wheeler battle for the puck Saturday night at Staples Center.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

What is it about three-goal deficits on Saturdays at Staples Center?

For the second straight week, the Kings fell behind by three goals, waved a magic stick and rallied. Like last week against Nashville, they came away with a point, losing to the Winnipeg Jets, 5-4, in a shootout.

The issue was decided in the fourth round of shootout as Jets forward Bryan Little beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick up high. The Kings are 1-6 in shootouts this season and their shooters are in an 0-for-19 slump.


The Kings were able to secure a point with four unanswered goals: by Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, Marian Gaborik and Kyle Clifford.

Clifford, whose shot went off the skate of Jets defenseman Mark Stuart at 12:25 of the third period, tied it 4-4, set up by Trevor Lewis, who beat Stuart coming out of the corner.

That was the Kings’ first lead of the night, a remarkable turn of events, considering they fell behind 3-0 in the opening 6:39 of the game as the Jets scored on their first three shots. But their lead didn’t last long, as Winnipeg defenseman Zach Bogosian equalized at 14:04 of the third, beating Quick from the top of the right circle.

All this came against a backdrop of a bewildering day for the Kings. News emerged of a surprise illness suffered by forward Tyler Toffoli, followed by more bad news: Rookie forward Tanner Pearson suffered a broken left ankle during the second period.

Not only are Pearson and Toffoli two of the Kings’ brightest young stars, they are among the league’s most promising youngsters. The Kings announced shortly before the game that Toffoli, their third-leading scorer, was diagnosed with mononucleosis on Friday.

Kings Assistant GM Rob Blake said there was no timetable for Toffoli’s return but estimated he would be out at least two weeks.

Pearson is scheduled to have additional testing on his ankle on Sunday.

Pearson was injured at the 11:08 mark of the second period going hard into the end boards while being checked by Winnipeg defenseman Jay Harrison. Williams, who scored in the first period, had just been denied by Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson.

Pearson limped off the ice and it appeared he couldn’t put weight on his left leg.

Earlier in the day, he had been picked as one of the six NHL rookies for the All-Star skills competition Jan. 24 at Columbus. His teammates, Kopitar and defenseman Drew Doughty were chosen Saturday to represent their teams at the league’s All-Star game, to be played Jan. 25.

This will be Kopitar’s third appearance and Doughty’s first. The other Kings-related representation in Columbus will be Darryl Sutter and his staff coaching one of the teams. Nashville’s Peter Laviolette will coach the other squad.

“There hasn’t been one for three or four years,” Sutter said, referring to the All-Star game being skipped last year because of the Olympics and the year before because of the lockout. “I think all our players should be on the team. They played more hockey than anybody else for three years since there was one. Everybody in this dressing room.”