Three things we learned from the Kings' 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday:
Both teams show mercy when a player is injured
The concern shown by players on both teams for injured Columbus forward Nick Foligno was genuine. Foligno sustained a neck injury during the third period after colliding with linesman Shane Heyer, and he was taken off the ice on a stretcher. Kings Coach Darryl Sutter went down the hallway at Staples Center to check on Foligno after the game; Kings players expressed real concern too, and fans were respectful with their applause as he was taken off the ice for treatment. He’s expected to be fine, with a sore neck to show for his frightening experience.
Pearson-Carter-Toffoli line is blessed with broad shoulders as well as skill
Broad shoulders? Huh? Well, Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli must have broad shoulders because they've been carrying the offense this season. They've scored 16 of the Kings' 21 goals; the rest were scored by Dwight King (who broke through on Sunday with a swat of a puck that had popped up in the air and plopped back down to the ice), Anze Kopitar (two), Justin Williams (one) and Dustin Brown (one). It would be nice for the other lines to chip in once in a while.
Yet the Kings have won six straight games and were 6-0-0 on a six-game homestand for the first time in club history despite missing defenseman Slava Voynov (NHL suspension) and injured forwards Trevor Lewis and Marian Gaborik. "It was important to get the points tonight because we're going on a tough trip," Sutter said of the five-game journey that begins against the Philadelphia Flyers. "I give our team credit for basically playing shorthanded through all six games."
Blue Jackets are on the rise and earned the Kings' respect
It was a bruising game that was close until midway through the third period, when Pearson scored twice.
Columbus outhit the Kings, 37-29, and was credited with 14 blocked shots, compared with nine by the Kings. "The last couple years they've built some character in their group," Dwight King said. "It's more like a playoff atmosphere, the style of game with the physical battles out there, and guys were prepared for that."
One thing we didn't know:
Extent of Kopitar's upper-body injury
He was hurt during the second period, apparently on a hit behind the net, and did not return. Sutter said the Slovenian center is "all right," but that might not be the case because teams are rarely open about players' injuries. Word might not filter out until late Monday because the team isn't scheduled to practice Monday before flying to Philadelphia.