"When we get three, we're pretty safe back there with Quicky," center Anze Kopitar said after the Kings beat Tampa Bay 3-1 Tuesday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. "He kept us in the game in the first period when they came hard. He gives us a chance. I've said it many times, but that's all you want from your goaltender."
Getting to three has been the Kings' problem; they've done it just 19 times in their 54 games.
But on Tuesday, they got second-period tallies from a couple of unlikely sources -- fourth-liner Kyle Clifford scored his fourth of the season and third-liner Dustin Penner had his fifth.
"It was a solid team game," said Kopitar, who opened the scoring 2:47 into the game. "Three lines put up goals on the board, and that's what you need after a rough start, I guess, to the road trip. You need a solid team game, and I thought we brought it tonight and it paid off."
Clifford's go-ahead goal came less than three minutes after Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos had gotten the Lightning even at 7:49, converting a pass from Teddy Purcell on a 2-on-1 break for his League-leading 35th goal of the season -- ending a stretch of nearly 10 minutes in which the Lightning did not have a shot on goal.
But Clifford jumped out of the penalty box after serving a roughing penalty, grabbed a pass by Rob Scuderi and broke in alone before beating Dwayne Roloson at 10:16 for his fourth goal of the season, breaking the 1-1 tie.
"We need to be more aware when a penalty is ending," Stamkos said. "Even the guys on the bench, myself included. We should have been screaming from the bench, letting them know that a guy was coming out of the box. That's the whole team's responsibility, not just the guys on the ice. That's your dream, when you're in the penalty box, to come out and get a breakaway, and their guy got it."
Lightning coach Guy Boucher agreed.
"We have to be aware of the man coming out of the penalty box," Boucher said. "Plain and simple. The man is coming out of the box and you have to know it. We didn't pay attention to the man coming out of the penalty box. We didn't seem to make many mistakes tonight, but the ones we made hurt us."
Scuderi was aware that he might be able to catch Clifford at the right time.
"I knew he was coming out of the box," Scuderi said. "He was real smart by going right to the middle of the ice. I kind of just threw it up there and it was mostly him (Clifford) getting to it."
Penner made it 3-1 at 17:46 of the second period with his fifth of the season, and Quick made 11 of his 23 saves in the third period for the win, the Kings' first in three games on their six-game road trip. They improved to 18-0-2 when leading after two periods.
The Lightning had several good scoring chances in the first period, during which they outshot the Kings 10-6, but when the puck wasn't rolling over the stick of a Tampa Bay player, Quick was there to make the save.
Kopitar put the Kings up 1-0 when he redirected Matt Greene's shot between the pads of Roloson for his 17th of the season to put the Kings ahead.
"The first goal in the NHL pretty much sets the tone," said coach Darryl Sutter, whose team is 19-4-5 when scoring first. "If you look at it, getting the first goal is a huge difference for every team."
The loss also perpetuated Tampa Bay's frustration with their power play. Tampa Bay went 0-for-3 with the extra man and has scored just twice in its last 21 chances -- and one of those goals was an empty-netter against Florida on Saturday night.
"We needed for the power play to give us some momentum," Stamkos said. "It's on us; we haven't been good (on the powerplay) all year. It's cost us some games and it certainly cost us a chance to get back into this game."
The loss snapped the Lightning's 6-0-1 streak and ended Martin St. Louis' nine-game point streak.
"It always hurts to lose," Boucher said. "Even if you've won seven, it always hurts. We came out flying and could have had four goals in the first period but the puck just didn't want to go in.
"That's how they win their games; they score one goal, maybe two, and their goaltender stands on his head. That's the story of their team. If they get three goals they're having a party."
There was no party needed, just a complete, solid effort by the Kings, who held the Lightning to fewer than two goals for just the second time in their last 12 games.
"Their defense is good and they are a tight-checking team, but we had some quality chances to score early in the game," Stamkos said. "Their goalie made some big saves. We expected a tight-checking game and that's what it was. We didn't find a way."
1 - 0 LAK
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 LAK
3 - 1 LAK
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