Jack Johnson was the happiest player in the dressing room - and not because of his three assists.
Immediately following the Kings' 6-4 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night, the Kings announced that Johnson signed a seven-year, $30.5 million contract extension. The fifth-year defenseman knew the deal was done on Friday. He signed the deal Saturday morning, ending more than two months of negotiations.
"It wasn't any kind of burden at all," said Johnson, who turns 24 on Thursday. "You just go out and play hockey every night, try to play well, and everything else would take care of itself. We had talked about numerous options and situations, and I had no problem committing that long. We were just trying to find something that was reasonable and fair for both sides.
"I think we're all very happy about it."
Johnson, the No. 3 pick in the 2005 draft by the Carolina Hurricanes, was dealt to Los Angeles in a multiplayer deal and has emerged as one-half of the team's top defensive pairing with Drew Doughty.
"That's great for Jack," coach Terry Murray said. "He's a young guy who's going to be a good player in this game for a long time. So it's great to get him locked up and know that Jack's going to be a part of this franchise for a long time.
"We're hoping that he and Drew Doughty can end up being the anchors of this blue line corps for a long time."
Dustin Brown started a three-goal first period with his team-high 17th goal, rookie defenseman Alec Martinez scored during a power play, and Ryan Smyth added an insurance goal after Columbus cut a 4-0 deficit to 4-3. Justin Williams scored into an empty net during a power play with 31 seconds remaining.
Jonathan Quick made 31 saves for the Kings (23-17-1). Last season, when they made the playoffs for the first time since 2002, they were 23-15-3 at the midpoint of the season.
Rick Nash scored twice in the third period for Columbus, Fedor Tyutin also scored and Matt Calvert netted his first NHL goal. But it wasn't enough to prevent the Blue Jackets from starting a calendar year with four straight losses for the first time in the franchise's 10-year history.
"We had a good third period. But on the road, we can't get down like that," Nash said. "We didn't test Quick until after the first goal. It was a mistake on their part which gave us momentum, and we used it. We haven't played our best hockey on this trip, but tonight we showed some character."
Columbus surrendered its sixth short-handed goal and second in two nights at 7:12 of the second period after getting caught on a line change. Stoll completed a 2-on-1 break with Marco Sturm against Kris Russell, scoring his 11th of the season for a 4-0 lead against former Kings goalie Mathieu Garon.
It was the 12th straight goal allowed by the beleaguered Blue Jackets, including six by Anaheim on Friday and Phoenix's final two goals of a 4-2 win on Tuesday.
That streak ended with a fluke goal at 13:30 of the second period by Calvert, a 21-year-old left wing who was playing in his second game since being promoted from Springfield of the AHL.
Calvert got his stick on Brown's intended cross-ice pass for Doughty in the Kings' zone, and the puck ricocheted right to Quick, who fanned on the clearing attempt and then sprawled backward in a desperate attempt to smother it with his glove.
Calvert was back on the bench before the goal was upheld by video review, and he broke out in a huge grin while his teammates congratulated him.
"We definitely needed that win. It was kind of ugly, but we'll take it any way we can get it," Johnson said. "After five losses, we've got to win five in a row now to get back to where we were. They got that one fluky goal and I think we got maybe a little casual, but they didn't quit at all."
NOTES: Calvert, the 127th pick in the 2008 draft, had 13 goals and 11 assists in 35 games with Springfield after spending last season with the Brandon of the Western Hockey League.
|Dustin Brown (17) ASST: Anze Kopitar (30), Drew Doughty (19)|
1 - 0 LAK
|PPG - Marco Sturm (3) ASST: Alec Martinez (3), Jack Johnson (25)|
2 - 0 LAK
|Jarret Stoll (10) ASST: Drew Doughty (20), Ryan Smyth (11)|
3 - 0 LAK
|SHG - Jarret Stoll (11) ASST: Marco Sturm (3), Jack Johnson (26)|
4 - 0 LAK
|Matt Calvert (1) ASST: NONE|
4 - 1 LAK
|Rick Nash (19) ASST: Jakub Voracek (16), Anton Stralman (10)|
4 - 2 LAK
|Fedor Tyutin (3) ASST: Antoine Vermette (14), R.J. Umberger (15)|
4 - 3 LAK
|Ryan Smyth (17) ASST: Justin Williams (19), Michal Handzus (10)|
5 - 3 LAK
|Rick Nash (20) ASST: Jakub Voracek (17), Kris Russell (7)|
5 - 4 LAK
|PPG - EN - Justin Williams (16) ASST: Jack Johnson (27), Michal Handzus (11)|
6 - 4 LAK
|Antoine Vermette Holding against Michal Handzus|
|Derek Dorsett Fighting against Kyle Clifford|
|Kyle Clifford Fighting against Derek Dorsett|
|Fedor Tyutin Interference against Wayne Simmonds|
|Wayne Simmonds Cross checking against Fedor Tyutin|
|Jarret Stoll Holding against Anton Stralman|
|Kyle Wilson Delaying Game - Puck over glass|
|Kyle Clifford Hooking against Rick Nash|
|Michal Handzus Interference - Goalkeeper against Mathieu Garon|
|Rick Nash Hi-sticking against Willie Mitchell|
|Anze Kopitar Roughing against Jared Boll|
|Jared Boll Roughing against Anze Kopitar|
|Kyle Wilson Too many men on the ice|