What we learned from the Kings’ 5-2 victory over Winnipeg on Thursday night at Staples Center.
Turning back the clock
Their offense has sputtered most of the season, their defense has sometimes been shaky and Coach Darryl Sutter often complained that their goaltenders didn’t steal wins while Jonathan Quick was recovering from a groin injury, but every now and then the Kings have proved they can put everything together in impressive fashion. On Thursday — against one of the NHL’s worst defensive teams, it must be said — they functioned like the efficient, play-controlling group they were when they won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and again in 2014 and in between reached the conference final.
“I felt like we were holding on to the puck a lot better, making the plays, just playing hockey, reacting on the ice instead of thinking too much and kind of being hesitant,” center Anze Kopitar said. “We’ve got to do more of the same in the coming weeks.”
Fluky bounce has little impact on Ben Bishop
The veteran goalkeeper had been 0-2-2 in his previous four appearances with the Kings this season. After a shot by Patrik Laine deflected off Kings defenseman Alec Martinez, off the end boards and off the inside of Bishop’s leg before entering the net to give the Jets a 2-1 lead at 18:41 of the first period, his winless streak seemed destined to continue. But his teammates picked up, tying the game in the second period and pulling away with three goals in the third.
“It’s nice. A little longer [in coming] than I would have liked but we’ll take it,” Bishop said of the victory. “The guys played really well tonight and had a big third period and obviously a big two points.”
He also said while it will be a tough task to catch Nashville or St. Louis for a wild card playoff berth, he doesn’t consider it impossible. “You never know what can happen in this league, especially with this team,” he said. “They have a really veteran team. It’s a really good team, too.”
Said left wing Tanner Pearson, who scored the short-handed goal that capped the Kings’ scoring: “We’re still alive. We’ll take it game by game and we’ll take it two points at a time. It was a start for us and hope we can keep this one going.”
Needed boost from power play
The Kings were three for four with a man advantage on Thursday, the third time this season they’ve scored three power-play goals in a game. To keep things in perspective, the Jets’ penalty killing ranked 28th in the NHL before the game. But if they can develop good habits and confidence from a performance like they had on Thursday, they can at least make a respectable run at a playoff spot while hoping at least one of the teams ahead of them goes into a slump.