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Jets top Kings in shootout after blowing big lead

by Curtis Zupke /

LOS ANGELES -- Bryan Little had been dogged by the shootout all season, but he broke through in time to save the Winnipeg Jets from an ignominious loss.

Little beat Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick with a snap shot to the glove side for the only goal in the shootout to help the Jets escape with a 5-4 win against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Saturday.

Winnipeg blew a three-goal first-period lead and watched Los Angeles take the lead early in the third. But the Jets rallied to tie the game with less than six minutes left in regulation, then won it on Little's shootout goal, his first in four tries this season.

"It gets to a point where it's in your head a bit that you haven't scored yet in the shootout," Little said. "But it's been a while since we've had one. It's definitely nice to get one, finally."

Mike Richards missed the net in the bottom of the tiebreaker's fourth round in his attempt to keep it going for Los Angeles.

The win capped a fruitful day for the Jets (21-14-7), who broke a 1-4-0 slide and got left wing Evander Kane and defensemen Toby Enstrom and Mark Stuart back from injury. They will finish their Southern California back-to-back Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks.

But not before some review after the Jets squandered a 3-0 lead and rallied from 4-3 down late in the third period.

"I thought we did a good job handling it," Little said. "It could have turned into a negative and guys get mad at each other. They threw a lot at us in the second period, and we stuck with it the whole game."

The Kings (19-13-10) have lost the first three of a seven-game homestand (0-1-2) and are 1-2-3 in their past six games. Los Angeles has allowed 15 goals in the first three games of its extended stay at Staples Center.

The loss was further dampened by news Los Angeles could be without two-thirds of "That '70s Line" for a significant amount of time. Tanner Pearson left the game midway through the second period after sustaining a broken bone in his left leg/ankle, and the Kings announced before the game that Tyler Toffoli is out indefinitely with mononucleosis

The Jets tied it 4-4 on Zach Bogosian's wrist shot with 5:56 left in regulation to stun the crowd. The Kings went up 4-3 when Kyle Clifford's shot went in off Stuart's skate at 12:25 of the third.

"They had a couple lucky bounces in the third period to get goals, but we really showed that we're just as resilient as they were tonight," Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson said. "From there, we played awesome in overtime. We had the puck on our stick most of the time, and in the shootout it was nice to see [Little] score that goal, and I just tried to do my job."

Hutchinson denied Drew Doughty, Trevor Lewis and Jeff Carter before Richards shot it high and wide. The Kings are 2-for-25 in the shootout this season, and it took a big rally just to get there.

Marian Gaborik completed the Kings' comeback from down 3-0 when he put in a loose puck that got caught in Enstrom's skates 1:29 into the third period. It was his 13th goal, tops on the Kings.

Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams scored power-play goals to cut the Kings' deficit to 3-2 in a momentum-swinging first period. Kopitar put in Doughty's rebound on a two-man advantage at 14:31, and Williams tapped in a loose puck at 15:58. Carter nearly tied it when he hit the crossbar on a shorthanded breakaway midway through the second.

Winnipeg has allowed eight power-play goals in its past five games. Jets coach Paul Maurice was largely positive afterward though, and gave good grades for Kane, Enstrom and Stuart.

"Really happy to have them back," Maurice said. "Evander [was] physical and clean in the forecheck - just hard-driving. That line scores the game-tying goal, and he's a big part of that. And then, I'll say even four [returners], because that was [Bogosian's] first real game back."

The Jets took a 3-0 lead on goals by Mathieu Perreault, Little and Blake Wheeler in the game's first seven minutes. Wheeler's pass went in off Lewis's skate on the power play at 6:39 to give Winnipeg three goals on its first four shots.

Perreault has 17 points in 17 games, including seven goals in his past 10.

It was another poor start by the Kings, who have been outscored 8-4 in the first period the past three games.

"We can't give up five goals and expect to win a hockey game," Los Angeles defenseman Alec Martinez said. "That's what it comes down to. You can't have first period starts like we've had. In the second half, we started playing more of a team game. We started to match their physical play, but … you can't give up that many goals and expect to win."

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