Boy, that escalated quickly.
The Kings were on their way to a loss in their season finale against the San Jose Sharks until they conjured up some magic with the help of Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar, in their 79th and 70th career games, respectively, against the Sharks, and Matt Roy, in his first.
It was goals by the latter two in a span of 2 minutes 17 seconds of the third period that allowed the Kings to steal a 4-2 win at Staples Center, with actor Will Ferrell in the television broadcast booth as character Ron Burgundy from the film, “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” to add a comic touch.
This Kings’ season is anything but funny, but Thursday represented a reprieve with the joy of veterans Brown and Kopitar, next to Roy, whose first NHL goal came on a point shot to tie it 2-2 at 9:28 of the third period with Brown screening Sharks goalie Martin Jones.
“Winning’s a lot more fun than losing,” Brown said. “We’ve had a lot of losing this year … these should be fun games for guys to play in. We have guys that get an opportunity to play at this level, and most of the teams we’re playing are not in this position that we’re in. They need points. I think it’s a good challenge for, not only young guys, but our whole team to compete against teams [whose] intensity level is high.”
Roy falls under the younger category. His first goal arrived in his 16th game, but he couldn’t initially enjoy it because it looked like Brown might have touched the puck.
“The way he reacted, he didn’t,” Roy said. “I was just super excited.”
Kopitar was left unmarked behind the defense for a quick breakaway goal at 11:25 to give the Kings only their third win in 19 games and second at home since the All-Star break. Jeff Carter finished it off with an empty-net goal, which ended a 20-game scoring slump.
Brown’s 79 games do not include four playoff series against their Northern California rival, dating to 2011. So it was appropriate that he scored the Kings’ first goal in a game where the stakes weren’t anywhere near what they used to be and the faces weren’t the same.
The Kings rolled out a lineup with four rookies, plus Ilya Kovalchuk and Jonny Brodzinski in street clothes in another coaches’ decision to go with 11 forwards. That went down to 10 because Brendan Leipsic left the game with a lower-body injury and is expected to be evaluated Friday, interim coach Willie Desjardins said.
San Jose did not have injured stars Erik Karlsson and Joe Pavelski, and Logan Couture was scratched late with flu-like symptoms.
“I thought we played well, but I don’t think we can go too far with this win,” Brown said. “They were missing three of their best players in the lineup.”
Brown got the puck from Sean Walker, moved to the top of the left circle, turned and sent a shot that eluded an unaware Jones. Brown then fell accidentally in his celebration and gestured for his teammates to give him grief for it.
“I fall down a lot, either way,” Brown said jokingly.
San Jose was without its usual horses, but it did have Tomas Hertl and Brent Burns, two nemeses too familiar to the Kings. Burns pinched down the right side and dropped a pass that Hertl grabbed and scored far side with Jonathan Quick screened by a teammate for a 2-1 lead in the second period.