Erik Cole snapped a 13-game goal drought by scoring twice, Justin Williams also scored and Martin Gerber made 35 saves to lead the Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes to a 3-2 victory on Thursday night.
"We were very fortunate to hang on with the way we played in the third period," Cole said. "We didn't do a very good job of getting pucks out of our end. You can't sit on any kind of lead anymore. You used to be able to, the way the old rules were. But it's tough when you're killing penalties because that's going to help the other team build momentum."
The Kings outshot Carolina 18-6 over the final 20 minutes, getting goals from Jeff Cowan and Eric Belanger. But Alexander Frolov took a hooking penalty with 3:16 to play, derailing the comeback bid.
"They're a good hockey team. They picked it up in the third period and they got it going," Carolina coach Peter Laviolette said. "But we did some really careless things with the puck and really undisciplined things with penalties. We were very fortunate to walk out of here with a win."
The Kings were awarded six consecutive power plays, but failed to score more than two goals for the sixth straight time. It was their fifth loss in that stretch.
Gerber improved to 12-5-1. The three-year veteran is finally getting a chance to start regularly after two seasons in Anaheim as Jean-Sebastien Giguere's backup.
"We didn't see Marty play last year, but the one thing he was missing was an opportunity to be a Number One goalie," Laviolette said. "I think it's good for him and good for the team that he's playing well, but I don't think it's that much of a surprise that Marty's numbers are what they are."
Cole gave the Hurricanes a 1-0 lead at 10:27 of the first period against a penalty-killing unit that has surrendered at least one power-play goal in 12 consecutive games. Cole jumped on a loose puck in the right circle, stick-handled away from Sean Avery and beat Mathieu Garon high to the glove side with a slap shot.
"The way we played in the first period was unacceptable," Kings captain Mattias Norstrom said. "The first 20 minutes cost us the game. We dominated for 30 minutes, but that is not good enough. We dug too big of a hole with the 3-0 deficit."
The Hurricanes struck again at 13:59, just five seconds after Los Angeles killed off a tripping penalty against Derek Armstrong. Mike Commodore's one-timer changed direction off the stick of Kings forward Pavol Demitra and bounced right to Williams, who scored from the right of the crease with Garon leaning the other way. It was the 12th goal for Williams, who has eight goals and 15 points over his last 11 games.
"They have a very good team with a lot of speed up front," Kings center Craig Conroy said. "We tried to get the puck deep the first five minutes, but we turned it over at their blue line and it cost us because they have a quick transition team with great players."
Cole, who averaged 16 goals over his previous three NHL seasons, made it 3-0 at 6:52 of the second period with his eighth.
"Hopefully, that's the one that will get me going again," he said.
It was the fourth time in five games that the Kings gave up two goals to one player. The others were Montreal's Pierre Dagenais, Ottawa's Dany Heatley and Chicago's Kyle Calder. Los Angeles was 0-for-6 on the power play, and is just 3-for-53 over their last eight games.
Notes: Williams left the game with a foot injury after blocking a shot in the second period. ... Kings RW Valeri Bure, who hasn't played this season because of lower back pain, is scheduled to undergo surgery on Friday and will be sidelined at least eight more weeks. ... Los Angeles assigned LW Jeff Giuliano to Manchester of the AHL. ... Garon's only other game against the Hurricanes was March 13, 2003, when he led Montreal to a 4-0 win with 33 saves. ... Carolina came in with the NHL's second-worst, penalty-killing percentage (77.4). ... The Kings are 8-9 in one-goal games.
|PPG - Erik Cole (7) ASST: Chad LaRose (1), Eric Staal (21)|
1 - 0 CAR
|Justin Williams (12) ASST: Mike Commodore (5), Cory Stillman (17)|
2 - 0 CAR
|Erik Cole (8) ASST: Oleg Tverdovsky (8)|
3 - 0 CAR
|Jeff Cowan (5) ASST: Craig Conroy (17), Alex Frolov (20)|
3 - 1 CAR
|Eric Belanger (10) ASST: Sean Avery (10), Tim Gleason (13)|
3 - 2 CAR
|Jeff Tambellini Tripping against Ray Whitney|
|Derek Armstrong Tripping against Matt Cullen|
|Glen Wesley Slashing against Derek Armstrong|
|Chad LaRose Tripping against Dustin Brown|
|Mike Commodore Slashing against Dustin Brown|
|Matt Cullen Tripping against Alex Frolov|
|Oleg Tverdovsky Slashing against Jeff Cowan|
|Aaron Ward Roughing against Dustin Brown|
|Alex Frolov Hooking against Eric Staal|