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Brown, Carter help Kings hold off Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS – The Los Angeles Kings had an answer every time the Columbus Blue Jackets scored.

Twice the sound of the cannon in Nationwide Arena had barely stopped reverberating before the Kings responded with a score en route to a two-goal lead. And when Columbus got to within one with a late goal, Jonathan Quick made the saves to help the Kings to a 4-3 victory on Monday.

The line of Jeff Carter, Dwight King and Tyler Toffoli combined for three goals and five points, and Los Angeles (23-18-12) won the final two games of a five-game road trip after losing the first three.

King and Carter each had a goal and an assist.

"The line was really good," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "They were our best forwards by a long shot."

Dustin Brown also scored and defenseman Brayden McNabb had an assist for the Kings.

Los Angeles won consecutive games for the first time since Dec. 18-20.

"We’re fighting for spots in the standings," King said. "It’s pretty obvious that we need to have this effort every night."

Columbus defenseman David Savard had a goal and an assist. His eighth goal with 1:53 left in regulation after goalie Curtis McElhinney was pulled eight seconds earlier drew the Blue Jackets within one, but Quick made the final four of his 23 saves.

The Blue Jackets (23-26-3) also got goals from Jack Skille in the first period and Scott Hartnell in the second.

Columbus’ first loss in three games spoiled Hartnell’s 1,000th NHL game. His goal with 5:42 left in the second briefly tied the game 2-2.

Hartnell had his family and several friends in attendance. Among them was a surprise visit by Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen. They were teammates when Hartnell broke in with the Nashville Predators in 2000 and were traded together to Philadelphia six years later.

"It was a very emotional day, my family being here," Hartnell said. "It would have been sweeter if we got the victory."

The Blue Jackets will hold a ceremony to honor Hartnell on Friday before playing the Flyers.

He extended his goal streak to three games with his 13th to complete a breakout with Ryan Johansen.

"Even just to be out there with him is special," Johansen said. "To set him up for a goal is pretty cool."

Hartnell took the outlet from Johansen and then returned the puck as they entered the zone.

Johansen whipped a cross-ice pass from the right circle to Hartnell for his 263rd NHL goal.

"It wasn’t obviously the prettiest one, going top shelf," Hartnell said. "We made a good entry there with [Johansen]. I didn’t really expect the pass back. Usually he’s shooting those pucks. I was able to get it in."

The euphoria lasted only 76 seconds before the Kings made it 3-2 with Carter converting a goalmouth pass from McNabb. McNabb filled in for defenseman Alec Martinez, who did not play because of concussion-like symptoms.

Carter has 15 goals; seven in 12 career games against his former team.

"Those are momentum swings," McElhinney said. "Obviously when you score a goal you want to take advantage of it, then to have them come back and answer the call is difficult."

Brown pounced on the rebound of a Marian Gaborik shot from the slot to increase the lead to 4-2 with his ninth goal 1:49 into the third period.

"We competed and played a really solid game," Toffoli said. "We carried the play. A little bit in the third they had a push but we did a great job staying in it and finished the game."

The Kings brushed aside an early own goal to hold a 2-1 lead after the first period.

Columbus took a 1-0 lead 1:40 into the first when a centering pass by Skille went into the net off the skate of Kings defenseman Jamie McBain for his sixth goal.

The score had not been announced before King tied the game off the rush 32 seconds later. Carter found King in front for the tap-in for his eighth goal on McElhinney, who made 40 saves.

Allowing such a quick response has become a trend of late for Columbus.

"It’s a lack of focus after goals," Johansen said. "We’ve been terrible in that area."

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