LOS ANGELES – In locking down their first win of the season, the Kings came out jumping, hounding on a Winnipeg club starting its season with a difficult West Coast road trip. Getting ahead early, and playing at a much better tempo than seen in their previous two games, the Kings beat the Jets handily 4-1 Sunday evening at STAPLES Center.
If the Kings have anything over the majority of teams in this league, it’s experience – and especially so against the Jets’ Chris Hutchinson, who tonight, was between the pipes for Winnipeg in what was just his fourth career NHL start.
Hutchinson was thrown into the mix, and the wolves came quick; The Kings tested Hutchinson early, and often.
Tyler Toffoli got the Kings on the board just over six minutes into the game, picking up a loose puck amongst a scrum in front of the Jets’ net, than chipping it past Hutchinson to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.
“I think we’re playing our game,” Toffoli noted following the win. “We’re having fun, making plays, and just doing what we’re told to do. We have to create chances and have to score goals if we’re going to stay together and be effective.”
Less than five minutes later after Toffoli’s opening marker, Anze Kopitar followed suit to give the Kings a 2-0 lead midway through the first. Kopitar received a touch pass from Marian Gaborik after he controlled a rebound off a Drew Doughty shot, and with savvy hands along with patience, easily put the puck past a sprawling Chris Hutchinson.
Winnipeg’s rookie goaltender would get the hook just over two minutes into the second period after Tanner Pearson snuck a puck through his pads to give the Kings a 3-0 lead.
Hutchinson stopped 10 of the 13 shots he faced in 22:03 minutes.
Late in the second period, Jeff Carter extended the Kings’ lead to 4-0, registering the 95th point of his career in a Kings uniform.
With Carter’s goal, each he, Toffoli, and Pearson had one to their name. In fact, their line accounted for a combined six points on the night – each player accounting for a goal and an assist each.
Martin Jones, making his first start of the season, was extremely solid while Jonathan Quick rested after his 37-save performance in Glendale on Saturday. Jones made 29 saves on the 30 shots he faced.
“It felt good,” Jones said following his first regular season start this year. “I was able to get some pretty good time in the preseason, but it felt good tonight in a real game situation, which is good. It comes down to practice habits, making sure you’re doing the right things to get prepared.
Including the preseason, Jones has stopped 119 of the 125 shots he’s faced this season, which chalks up as a .952 SV% and a 1.38 GAA. Tonight’s win was the first of the season for Jones, and the 13th of his career.
Drew Doughty led the Kings in shots (4), Dustin Brown in hits (5), Matt Greene and Dustin Brown in blocked shots (2), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (23:21).
The Kings went 0-3 on power play opportunities, and are now 0-11 on the season.
With his two assists tonight, Drew Doughty has passed Marty McSorley for fifth place on the all-time Kings defenseman assist list with 164.
The Kings improved their record against the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise to 7-0-2 at STAPLES Center. They have never lost once in regulation to this franchise on home ice.
The Kings, now 1-1-1 on the season, will continue their current home stand when the Edmonton Oilers pay a visit to STAPLES Center this coming Tuesday night. Edmonton will come to town with a 0-1-1 record. The puck is slated to drop at 7:30PM PT.