LOS ANGELES – The Kings got what they needed Wednesday night in their return from the All-Star break, a 4-3 comeback win over the Chicago Blackhawks at STAPLES Center.
Much of the focus surrounding the club in return from the midseason break was on the loss of a beloved teammate in Mike Richards, who was placed on waivers and eventually assigned to the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs earlier in the week.
The Kings, as a team, got the message that was sent by General Manager Dean Lombardi. And Jeff Carter, a well-known close friend of Richards’, put the team on his back Wednesday night.
“Every time you play them, it’s an intense, exciting game,” Carter said of the Blackhawks. “If you can’t get up to play a game like this, as a player, there’s something wrong with you. We enjoy it, a big battle for us tonight. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
The Blackhawks took a pair of early leads, but it was Carter who responded both times to keep the Kings at-bay with Chicago. Carter, with his two goals Wednesday, now has three goals in the past two games; he had one goal in 12 games prior to his current stretch.
Wednesday marked Carter’s 10th multi-point game of the season; the Kings are now 10-0-0 in games when Carter registers more than a single point in a game. He has a total of four points (3G, 1A) over the past two.
Chicago’s Andrew Shaw gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead just over two minutes into the third period, but the Kings struck back for two late tallies to pocket a thrilling 4-3 win.
Tyler Toffoli, in his first game back after sitting out six games with mononucleosis, buried the Kings’ third goal of the evening, beating Corey Crawford with a shot high to the top-shelf from the heart of the slot. Toffoli’s goal tied the game 3-3 with 6:11 to play in regulation.
“We know our group of guys, we’ve been saying that all year,” Toffoli said of the team effort. “Tonight was a night that we wanted to prove to ourselves that we could win big games and we did it tonight. One game at a time, and we’ve got 34 left.”
With 3:37 left in the third, Jake Muzzin directed a wrist-shot toward traffic in front of Chicago’s net, it deflected off the stick of a Blackhawks defenseman and past Corey Crawford to give the Kings a 4-3 win.
Muzzin’s game-winning goal was his third of the season, which ties him for the team-lead, and sits him fifth-overall among NHL defenseman.
“It was a good effort,” Darryl Sutter said of the win. “We have to beat somebody to make the playoffs.”
Jeff Carter led all players in points scored (2G, 1A = 3), Jeff Carter in shots taken (5), Robyn Regehr in hits delivered (6), Alec Martinez and Robyn Regehr in shots blocked (4), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (29:49). Jonathan Quick made 26 saves in the win.
With the win, the Kings’ record improves to 21-15-12; their mark on home ice at STAPLES Center jumps to 16-6-6. The Kings will no venture out on a five-game road trip, starting Saturday night at TD Garden against the Boston Bruins. The puck is slated to drop at 4:00PM PT.