He quite possibly saved the Kings’ season from blowing up when goalie Jonathan Quick went down with a serious injury in the early part of the 2013-14 campaign.
Possible season-saving assistance — in a different form — but, yes still help, nonetheless came again from Ben Scrivens.
Granted, this is a team game and Scrivens, the former Kings goalie, wasn’t getting much help from his Edmonton teammates. But he gave up goals on three consecutive shots in the first 9 minutes 13 seconds at Staples Center, looking shaky as the Kings powered to an 8-2 victory over the Oilers on Thursday night and moved into a playoff spot.
It is the first time the Kings scored eight goals in a game since they beat Vancouver on April 1, 2010.
Rookie goalie Tyler Bunz made his NHL debut, replacing Scrivens for the third period and the dream of his first action quickly turned into a nightmare as he gave up goals on consecutive shots 22 seconds apart, a knuckler by defenseman Robyn Regehr and a shot by Marian Gaborik, who scored his second of the game. Bunz allowed three goals on 12 shots.
“The first period was important. They [the Oilers] scored the one goal and we got a couple more,” said Gaborik, who had a three-point night. “We just kept going. I felt bad for that Bunz, that goalie coming in. I guess it was his first [game].
“But it’s nice to get this one behind us and move to the next one. Huge games from now on.”
Long goal-scoring droughts ended for captain Dustin Brown (19 games), defenseman Drew Doughty (24 games) and forward Jordan Nolan (20 games). Jeff Carter also scored twice, his 27th and 28th of the season.
Center Anze Kopitar added two assists. The points were spread out nicely for the Kings as 15 players figured in the scoring.
This put them back in the playoff spot for the moment. The good news for the Kings started even before Scrivens started allowing goals.
For once, it seemed, the Kings’ chief rivals were faltering in the Midwest — St. Louis 4, Calgary 1; Chicago 3, Vancouver 1.
The Kings are tied with the Winnipeg Jets with 90 points but are in the final wild-card playoff spot because they hold the tiebreaker. They trail the third-place Flames by one point in the Pacific Division.
They were without defenseman Andrej Sekera, who was injured at Chicago on Monday. Sekera suffered an injury to his leg and it is not expected he will return before the end of the regular season.
Also, the game featured the return of Kings center Jarret Stoll, who has been out of the lineup since suffering a head injury against Vancouver on March 12. Stoll played on a line with Brown and Trevor Lewis and assisted on Brown’s goal, just 2:23 into the game.
Stoll had missed nine games but felt confident enough to return after back-to-back practice sessions with his teammates.
With Stoll returning, center Mike Richards was a healthy scratch for the first time in his long NHL career.
The Kings, meanwhile, signed left wing Tanner Pearson to a two-year contract extension, something of a bridge deal carrying an average value of $1.4 million a year.