LOS ANGELES – In their final game prior to the Winter Olympics, the Kings were looking for something, anything to provide a spark of positivity as they now embark on a three-plus week hiatus from NHL play.
That spark, they found; and in late, magical fashion.
The game started on a sour note for the Kings, who came out looking discombobulated and out-of-sync out of the gates.
After Tyler Toffoli was called for a hooking infraction just 1:04 into the game, former King Jack Johnson opened the scoring, giving the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the contest, sending home a snap-shot from the point through the legs of Jonathan Quick.
The Kings recorded just two shots in the first period, and were heavily outplayed by Columbus.
The second period saw the Kings play a much more balanced game, but with no results to show for, other than maintaining their one goal deficit.
Jake Muzzin, who hadn’t scored a goal in 11 games, knotted the game for the Kings 3:09 into the third period, notching his fourth goal of the season.
Anze Kopitar, who showed outstanding control of the puck along the side-boards, read Muzzin’s movement toward the crease, and led him to the net with a perfect pass across the slot, allowing the Kings defenseman to jam home the game-tying goal.
The rest of the third period was very tightly played, as few opportunities were created from the few shots that were taken. The Kings and the Blue Jackets had five third period shots respectively.
The Kings dictated the pace and controlled the puck from start to finish during overtime. That is, until they ended the game on their own terms.
Robyn Regehr, who received a pass from Mike Richards atop Columbus’ zone, rocketed home the game-winning goal for the Kings past the far side of Sergei Bobrovski with 2:27 remaining in overtime.
For Regehr, it was his second goal of the season – his first came against the Blue Jackets as well, on December 21 at Nationwide Arena. It was also Regehr’s first-career OT goal.
The Blue Jackets have now lost their previous four games played at STAPLES Center, which dates back to February 1, 2012.
The Kings won’t play again until February 26, when they’ll be in Colorado for a date with the Avalanche at Pepsi Center.
Five players and one staff member will now make their way to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick will represent USA, Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty, and Equipment Manager Darren Granger will represent Canada, Anze Kopitar will represent Slovenia, and Slava Voynov will represent Russia.
The Kings head into the Olympic break with a 31-22-6 record, good for 68 points, and sits them at seventh-place in the Western Conference.