LOS ANGELES – The continued resurgence of the Kings’ power play, along with goals from three different lines Thursday night directed the Kings to a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes at STAPLES Center.
It was a solid finish to the Kings’ four-game home stand, who will now play nine of their next 12 games away from STAPLES Center – a building where they’ve found more success than any other team in the league.
“I think it’s always important getting a win before you go on the road,” Dustin Brown told Jon Rosen Thursday night. “Just from a morale standpoint. It keeps us in good spirits. Now we’ve got to be prepared to go.”
Jarret Stoll kicked off the night’s scoring with his second goal of the season just under eight minutes into the game. Stoll’s marker came during the Kings’ first power play of the evening.
While Dustin Brown and Justin Williams worked the puck low in Carolina’s zone along the boards, Stoll searched for room in the Hurricanes’ slot. Brown found Stoll with a pass from behind the net, and Stoll chipped a shot past Cam Ward high to the glove side to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.
Stoll’s goal came during the Kings’ first power play of the night. They’re now 6-for-11 in man-advantage situations in their past three games after breaking an 0-for-19 slump last Saturday against Anaheim. Stoll has three points (2G, 1A) in the last three games.
The Kings’ lead wouldn’t last through the first period, as Carolina’s Jeff Skinner rifled a wrist shot low to the far post past Jonathan Quick on a two-on-one sequence with under three minutes to play in the opening frame.
It was a gorgeous release from the Hurricanes’ second-year prospect, who finished second in points with Carolina last season with 54 (33G, 21A), only behind Eric Staal’s 61 points.
Trevor Lewis reclaimed the lead for the Kings just :37 seconds into the second period, jamming away at a loose puck in Carolina’s crease to bury the Kings’ second goal of the evening.
Lewis’ marker was under review for a moment, but was ultimately ruled a good goal, giving the Kings’ forward his third goal of the season, and his second in five games. Lewis took a solid three to four hacks at a loose puck as it lost it’s way in a scrum in front of Cam Ward’s crease, but his stick was the last object to touch the puck, legalizing the goal.
“It felt like it hit my stick,” Lewis said of his goal. “Then it took a while for them to review it so it made me second guess. I felt either way it was a good goal.”
Carolina’s Eric Staal beat Jonathan Quick with a back-hand rebound off of a Jeff Skinner shot less than two minutes after Lewis’ goal, once again tying the game. Staal’s goal came on the Hurricanes’ fourth power play of the night.
Tanner Pearson struck :38 seconds after Staal tied the contest, scoring his first goal in 11 games, giving the Kings a 3-2 lead with 17 minutes to play in the second period. Pearson batted an airborne rebound off a Mike Richards shot attempt past Cam Ward while the puck was still about six inches off the surface.
Darryl Sutter moved Pearson to the fourth-line Thursday night, playing him alongside Mike Richards and Kyle Clifford. It would be hard to call that a demotion. Playing on the back-end of the Kings’ offense, Pearson found some relief.
“It feels good,” Tanner Pearson said in regards to getting back on the score sheet. “Whenever you are kind of in a drought, and I obviously haven’t been playing my best hockey lately, but definitely this game helped a lot.”
The following 37 minutes were scoreless, resulting in a 3-2 Kings win; and it had everything to do with Cam Ward’s 36 saves, and some last-minute magic from Jonathan Quick.
Trevor Lewis led all Kings players in shots taken (6), Brayden McNabb and Jake Muzzin in hits delivered (3), Jake Muzzin in blocked shots (4), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (24:54). Jonathan Quick made 25 saves in the win.
Carolina has dropped their previous four visits to Los Angeles, and seven of their past eight, dating back to February 8, 2001. The Hurricanes’ lone win in that timespan came on December 8, 2005. The Kings are now 7-4-0 against Carolina at home since the franchise relocated from Hartford, CT prior to the 1998-’99 campaign.
As the Kings embark on a heavily saturated road schedule in the coming weeks, they remain the most dominant team on home ice in the NHL with 10 wins, and 21 points accumulated. The Kings are 10-2-1 at STAPLES Center this season.
Now comes the test for a Kings club that is 1-3-3 away from Los Angeles this season, playing nine of their next 12 games on the road.
With the win, the Kings’ record improves to 11-5-4. They’ll begin a three-game road trip Saturday evening at the American Airlines Center for their third and final meeting with the Dallas Stars this season. The puck is slated to drop at 5:00PM PT.