LOS ANGELES, CA - It wasn't so much a thriller as it was a tactical, playoff-style chess match, but all in all, it was exactly - or darn close to it - what Winnipeg Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice had hoped to see in response to a couple tough beats.
Unfortunately, it only resulted in half of what the Jets were looking for.
Jeff Carter scored 1:36 into overtime to give the LA Kings a 3-2 win after trailing late in the third period. Jake Muzzin fed Carter with a sweet dish at the side of the net, and forward toe-dragged before firing it home for his team-leading 23rd goal of the season.
"Sometimes on back-to-backs it takes you a little while, but after that, we played a hell of a game," Maurice said. "I liked a lot of what we did. We got stronger and stronger. We needed the third one to go to put a team like that out (of it), but it was probably right that it was that close at the end.
"You have to like the way you play to feel good about your game. I don't like the end result but we liked our game. The compete was right, the battle was right. There's always mistakes, so it wasn't perfect, but (the Kings) made at least as many. It's all about confidence. It's not just about hands, it's about how you feel you can play. And we played right tonight."
Video: WPG Recap: Hutchinson makes 35 saves in overtime loss
Dustin Byfuglien scored a power-play goal at 7:38 of the third to give the Jets a 2-1 lead, but the Kings battled back to tie it on the back of a Dustin Brown goal with 5:08 to play to send the game to overtime.
Brown found a loose puck in the blue paint after Derek Forbert shot was blocked in front. Brown battled among three Jets but banged it home at the side of the net.
The goal came just moments after Blake Wheeler was denied on a partial breakaway.
Drew Stafford scored Winnipeg's other goal, while Michael Hutchinson was excellent in goal, stopping 35 of 38 shots.
The Jets were under siege early on, surrendering the first goal at 3:19 after a tough, minute-long shift that saw the Kings pour their third, fourth and fifth shots on Hutchinson.
Dodging a check on a pick play down low, Anze Kopitar then moved the puck up the far wall before making a move to the middle and finding Marian Gaborik with a terrific, 35-foot pass across the goalmouth. Gaborik made no mistake at the side of the net, beaming a shot just under the bar to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.
Video: POSTGAME | Michael Hutchinson
The Jets had a much better response than in their previous two outings, but penalty troubles kept them in a defensive posture for much of the opening frame. The damage could, and likely should have been more severe, but Hutchinson's best friend - the goalpost - kept three other home shots off the board.
The Kings hit four others on the night, including two on the same play late in the game when Kyle Clifford swiped at a loose puck, but his try at the empty net hit the base of both posts and stayed out.
"Four of them actually went off my shoulder before they hit the post, so if they went any lower they'd hit me," Hutchinson said, adding in jest of his former junior compadre: "There was only that one that Clifford had, but I played junior with him and he doesn't put those in the net too often."
Shots on goal favoured the Kings, who had the period's only two power plays, 15-9 after one.
Stafford evened the score for the Jets with a power-play goal at 15:06 of the second. Stafford, who had just jumped on during a partial line change, took a great pass from Mathieu Perreault and rifled it home from the top of the right circle.
Mark Scheifele picked up the other assist, giving him an even 40 points (19G, 21A) on the year.
Video: POSTGAME | Drew Stafford
"Even without the point - we wanted two - but the way that we played tonight, the effort that we put in throughout our lineup…is going to get us a lot more wins than losses. Unfortunately we didn't get the two points but we're going to try and bubble this one up and bring it on to San Jose."
The Jets had taken over the period and were even in shots at this point, while earning their offensive zone time on the strength of a relentless forecheck.
"I thought we played pretty well," Hutchinson said. "Our effort level was there; we battled. LA's a tough team to play in their home rink. They have some big bodies out there, but we battled out there and played real close to a full 60 minutes. Even when they had the puck in our zone for a little bit, guys were sacrificing, blocking shots and playing the way we need to play. If we play that way all the time we're going to be really successful down the stretch."
- Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com