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Kings stave off Tampa Bay to win fifth-straight

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings

– The Kings continued their win streak Monday night against the team they started it against with a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at STAPLES Center.

In what was yet another solid effort from all fronts, the Kings were able to recover from a first period deficit by responding with three consecutive goals to drive them to the win. The Kings finished their home stand with a perfect 3-0-0 mark.

The Kings, once again, showed balanced scoring in Monday night’s win with goals from three separate lines, and with eight players registering at least one point.

“We scored big goals tonight,” Sutter expressed following the win. “Nolan’s goal is a big goal. Obviously Carter’s goal is a big goal. Getting goals from different lines, you can’t just get it from one line, you have to be able to spread it around a little bit.”

Nikita Nesterov got the Lightning on the board with his first career NHL goal just over 12 minutes into the game. Quick was left helplessly out of position on Nesterov’s goal when Matt Greene accidentally interfered with the Kings’ netminder.

Anze Kopitar got the Kings on the board when he received a perfect stretch pass from Trevor Lewis and split two Tampa Bay defenseman to walk in alone on Andrei Vasilevskiy. Kopitar, knowing he had defenseman bearing down on him, fired a quick wrist shot that beat Vasilevskiy below the blocker and just barely about the right pad. For Kopitar, it was his first goal in 10 games.

Entering the third period locked in a 1-1 tie, Jordan Nolan put the Kings ahead 2-1 just over three minutes into the final frame. As Nolan entered Tampa Bay’s zone in support of Dwight King, King dropped Nolan a pass and drove to the net to clear space for a shot. Nolan, with that space, used his patience, moved laterally, and beat Vasilevskiy with a backhand shot to the top right corner.

“We’re trying to get our game together and make a playoff push,” Nolan stressed following the win. “[Tampa Bay] is one of the best teams in the league, so I thought we played a great game.”

With just over six minutes to play, Jeff Carter gave the Kings a 3-1 lead. Drew Doughty drove into Tampa Bay’s zone, found a lane to feed Carter a cross-ice pass, and Carter beat Vasilevskiy with a wrist shot to the top shelf.

With assists on both Nolan and Carter’s goals, Dwight King extended his point streak to four games, a career high. King has seven points (3G, 4A) in the last four games, and registered his fourth multi-point game of the season Monday night; his third in the last four games.

Tyler Johnson got the Lightning to within one goal with 47 seconds left to play, but that’s as close as Tampa Bay would get. The Kings’ defense stood strong during the final moments, and they were able to keep Tampa Bay’s power play scoreless throughout the night.

“We didn’t give up too much, even our penalty kill was pretty good,” Doughty said of the Kings’ defense in the win. “We played well defensively and that’s what we need to do to win games; the goals come after that.”

Dwight King (2A) led all Kings players in points scored, Jeff Carter in shots taken (5), Kyle Clifford and Robyn Regehr in hits delivered (6), Jamie McBain and Jake Muzzin in shots blocked (2), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (30:29). Jonathan Quick made 21 saves in the win.

With the win, the Kings’ record improves to 26-18-12; their mark on home ice at STAPLES Center jumps to 19-6-6. The Kings finished their home stand with a 3-0-0 record, and have won their past five games. The Kings will hit the road and pay a visit to the Pepsi Center to take on the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night; the puck is slated to drop at 7:00PM PT.

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