LOS ANGELES - Leave it to two defensemen to send the struggling Los Angeles Kings into the Olympic break on a high note.
Robyn Regehr scored on a slap shot from the left side 2:33 into overtime to give the Kings a come-from-behind 2-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night at Staples Center. It was his second goal of the season, both against Columbus, and his first career overtime goal.
"The guys gave me a hard time before the game about scoring that goal on these guys a couple of weeks ago in their building, and I just got a good opportunity tonight," Regehr said.
Jake Muzzin also scored for Los Angeles, which enters the Olympic hiatus with a win after going 1-8-1 in its previous 10 games. The Kings scored 13 goals in that span.
As good as the win felt, the upcoming break for the non-Olympians like Regehr can't come too soon.
"I think we're going to look at it as a sprint to the playoffs," Regehr said. "We would like to have more points, but the reality of the situation is we don't. All we can do is now make the best of the situation we're in, and for us, that's building off this win and playing well, and really putting together some strong hockey in the last 22 or 23 games that we have until the end of the season."
Regehr's shot sailed over the left shoulder of screened Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to complete a gritty comeback by the Kings, who overcame an awful start. They also got a win for goalie Jonathan Quick, who had allowed two or fewer goals four times in his previous seven starts but had a 1-3 record to show for it.
"We all know we were not very good in the first period," center Anze Kopitar said. "It was arguably one of the worst periods we've played in a long, long time. I think it just showed the character of this team. We could have easily packed it in and looked forward to the Olympic break but we stuck with it, pretty much gutted it out. It's a huge two points."
The Blue Jackets played a great puck-possession game and had a 1-0 lead going into the third. They are 11-3-1 in the past 15 games with a visit to the San Jose Sharks one game to go before the break, but this one stung some.
"We're a little disappointed right now," Bobrovsky said. "It's life. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. It's okay. Tomorrow we have one more game [against the San Jose Sharks] and we'll focus on this game."
Columbus practically handed Los Angeles the keys to the game by giving it six power plays of various length, but the tying goal came during 4-on-4 play. Muzzin snuck behind the defense to nudge in Kopitar's pass at 3:09 of the third to make it 1-1. It was Muzzin's fourth goal.
Quick and Bobrovsky, who could face each other in Sochi, were stellar in L.A.
Bobrovsky, who will play for Russia, helped Columbus kill three penalties in the second period. He got his left leg over to stop Justin Williams on a wraparound, stopped Trevor Lewis on a shorthanded attempt and denied Tyler Toffoli on a backhand. Quick, who will play for the U.S., also held his ground, stopping Brandon Dubinsky's shorthanded breakaway try late in the second.
"Our team played a very strong game tonight," center Ryan Johansen said. "Credit to L.A. They really stuck to their game and found a way to win. That's the way it goes sometimes. I like the way we played tonight, though. I think Quick made a few big saves on us. It was a good road game for our team, though."
Columbus pounced on the seemingly disinterested Kings and took a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by ex-King defenseman Jack Johnson 1:40 into the game. Johnson scored his fourth of the season when he took a pass from Johansen at the right circle and beat Quick with a wrist shot as defenseman Willie Mitchell kneeled down to try to block the shot.
Toffoli was in the penalty box for a hooking penalty in the Blue Jackets' zone.
Columbus defenseman Ryan Murray left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury from a hit by Dustin Brown but returned in the third. Brown was given a minor for charging -- a call that left neither side happy.
"it was a body check and he appeared to be a little lower than I was, so I don't know what to do in that situation," Brown said.
Columbus coach Todd Richards was outspoken.
"The hit certainly stirred up a lot of emotion in me," he said. "The way that I saw it was our player was in a vulnerable position. Distance traveled. [Brown] left his feet. To me, it looks like it was a forearm right to the chin, and the primary point of contact was the head. I don't know what else you have to do to get a five-minute major. And the guy has done it before."
The Kings looked out of synch at the beginning of the game and were assessed two penalties for too many men; the latter came when the puck was 70 feet from their bench. Even during its slump, Los Angeles played with the puck a lot but that wasn't the case in the first two periods when Columbus won 27 of 40 faceoffs and had a 20-13 shot advantage.