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Kings Notebook (Jan. 27)

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
Dustin Brown had one of his best games of the season on Tuesday vs. Toronto.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - There was a lot of relief when the Kings scored their first goal Tuesday.

First, and most obviously, the goal gave the Kings an early lead over Toronto.

Second, it came from Drew Doughty, who was able to overcome the intense pressure of playing close to home and dealing with the Canadian media for three days.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the goal came on the power play, and snapped an 0-for-27 skid by the Kings’ power play. Nothing major changed for the Kings during that time. Patience, and a sustained willingness to shoot the puck, finally paid off.

"It's been coming pretty good, actually," coach Terry Murray said of the power play Wednesday. "The offensive-zone time, moving the puck around and establishing some momentum off of power plays, even if not scoring off of them, has been pretty effective, I think, in the last couple games. Last night, it worked. The attitude, the structure, the system haven't changed. We just need to get that execution on a consistent basis."

Doughty’s goal, with 8:33 remaining in the first period, came on a long-range slap shot, which only served to reinforce Murray’s thoughts about breaking out of the slump.

"To me, in my experience with the game, when you're not getting results, shoot the puck," Murray said. "Just shoot the God damn thing, every opportunity that you get, and something good will happen and you can start to work on those other options that are created from the hesitancy of the penalty-killing team."

The Kings, despite their recent power-play struggles, are still No. 16 in the league in power-play efficiency this season, at 18.3 percent. That’s middle of the pack, similar to the way that Columbus’ penalty-kill unit is ranked No. 14, at 82.4 percent.

It seems fitting that Doughty got the streak-busting power-play goal, with an assist from Anze Kopitar, because they have been the Kings’ strongest power-play players this season. Kopitar as a team-high 22 power-play points, and Doughty is second with 21.

In Tuesday’s Kings victory over Toronto, team captain Dustin Brown arguably had his best game of the season, without even taking one shot on goal.

Brown was a force throughout the game, particularly in the second period, when he had the first assist on three goals that turned a 1-1 game into a 4-2 Kings lead.

Brown finished with the first three-assist game of his career, his first three-point game of the season and the admiration of coaches and teammates for his all-around strong play.

"He was a real force there throughout the night, to be honest with you," Murray said. "His attitude with the puck, his size, his strength became a factor in the game.

"And it wasn't something I talked about before the game, and said it's one of these games that you have to dig in. I think he recognized that, as the captain of the team, that it was important for him to go out and set a style, set a tempo, and to follow through with that on every shift. And guys followed him."

Murray pointed to a play early in the game that helped set the tone for Brown.

"The first attack of the game that he had, in the first period," Murray said, "he was driving down the right-wing side and he could have challenged the defenseman wide, held onto the puck and kept going and maybe taken a real sharp-angle shot or made a play of some sort. He didn't do that. He kind of got rid of it too soon.

"As soon as he came back to the bench, Jamie (Kompon) talked to him about it, and from that point on, there was a lot of authority in his game.''

After Wednesday’s practice, Murray indicated that he might return Teddy Purcell to the Kings’ lineup Thursday at Columbus. Purcell practiced Wednesday on a line with Alexander Frolov and Michal Handzus, in a spot that Scott Parse previously occupied.

Purcell was a healthy scratch Tuesday and, for a while, Oscar Moller took Parse’s place on that third line. Moller got good reviews for his play, but the Kings’ need for a fourth-line center will probably keep Moller in that spot and give Purcell a chance to return.

"I tried different people on that side," Murray said of the third-line right wing. "I was not happy with the way a couple guys were playing, really. So it just came to (Moller’s) turn and he grabbed a hold of it, quite honestly.

"I thought the reads they made off their cycle, the opportunities they opened up off the cycle, popping up and getting shots, he showed that ability to adjust to playing a skill game in a critical situation. At the same time, that line was very good on the checking part of it, when it was a 4-2 game. He fit in very well."

Murray said he didn’t plan any changes on defense and that Jonathan Quick would start in goal.
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