The hockey cliches might as well be engraved into every locker room wall: Find ways to win. Have your best players be your best players.
They were evident in the Kings’ 2-1 overtime win Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks, which stretched their win streak to five games.
Here’s what we learned:
Kings have done it different ways
During their streak, the Kings have survived a third-period blitz by the Ducks, a wacky flurry of late goals against the New York Islanders and an overtime against the highly skilled Blackhawks.
Goalie Peter Budaj is in his first extended run with the Kings, and he can see how they find ways to win.
“We have very good personnel here and a great group of guys,” Budaj said. “We stick together. It’s a long season of ups and downs. The boys are playing very good in front of me and doing everything right. We’re getting the wins and that’s very good. We have to keep going and stay positive.”
Marian Gaborik will ease into his return
The wing played almost 12 minutes, on the fourth line, in his return from a broken foot that had kept him out since September. Gaborik is, of course, a top-six forward whom Kings Coach Darryl Sutter would ideally like to play more minutes, with Anze Kopitar, when he gets his legs fully underneath him.
“I think it’s going to take some time,” Sutter said. “[It’s been] nine weeks. The key is to get the game conditioning and the pace … and execution.”
Jeff Carter has the mojo
Those were the words of linemate Tanner Pearson about Carter, who recorded his NHL-leading sixth game-winning goal with his overtime strike. With Kopitar set back by an injury, Carter has done his part with five goals in five games.
“He definitely has the mojo going right now,” Pearson said. “Tyler [Toffoli] and I are along for the ride, but he is definitely playing his game.”