The Kings' defense corps grabbed the offensive spotlight Saturday, scoring three goals in a 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins in an afternoon game played at Staples Center.
Jake Muzzin tied a career mark with three points, on a goal and two assists, and Drew Doughty and Christian Ehrhoff each scored for the Kings, who have won three straight and are 4-0-1 in the last five games.
The Kings (16-8-1) beat Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury four times in 18 shots in the second period, no small feat because Fleury had shut them out twice last season. In addition, before Saturday’s game Fleury had compiled an excellent goals-against average (2.16) and save percentage (.929), but the Kings dented both of those numbers.
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick allowed three goals in Pittsburgh’s first 12 shots and faced merely 20 shots overall.
Kings winger Marian Gaborik was stopped by Fleury on a penalty shot at 11:33 of the third period, after Gaborik had been pulled down on a breakaway.
Left wing Milan Lucic sealed the victory with his second goal of the game, into an empty net at 18:45 of the third period after the Penguins had pulled Fleury in favor of an extra skater.
After a scoreless first period, the Kings broke through on the power play, triggering a spree of five goals for both teams in 9 minutes 52 seconds. When the dust cleared, the Kings led, 4-1.
The Penguins were penalized for delay of game 2:22 into the second period and the Kings swiftly took advantage. Jeff Carter won the faceoff from Matt Cullen and slipped the puck back to Muzzin, who passed across to Doughty. The defenseman’s one-timer from the left circle beat Fleury high, to the glove side, at 2:26.
Ehrhoff increased the lead to 2-0 at 9:53, set up on a diligent and clever play by Gaborik. After taking control of the puck in the defensive zone, Gaborik dashed up the right side and passed to Ehrhoff, who cradled the puck on his stick and shot it just past defenseman Rob Scuderi and past Fleury.
Lucic finished off a two-on-one with Tyler Toffoli by taking the shot himself and propelling the puck through Fleury’s pads at 10:57. The Penguins cut the Kings’ lead to 3-1 on a low, stick-side shot by Chris Kunitz, but Muzzin’s fine shot from the inside edge of the left circle rebuilt their three-goal lead, at 4-1.
That didn’t last, as Olli Maatta eluded a defender and skated in for a backhander that beat Quick at 18:01 to trim the Kings’ lead to 4-2. Sidney Crosby cut the lead to one goal when he redirected a shot by defenseman Brian Dumoulin past Quick 2:39 into the third period, but the Penguins couldn’t pull even.
The Kings will close out a four-game homestand by facing the Tampa Bay Lightning Sunday, a rare sequence of home games on two consecutive days.
Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen