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Kings outlast 'Canes 4-3 for third win in a row

by John Kreiser
The Los Angeles Kings got a victory Wednesday night, but lost their best defenseman in the process.

Andrei Loktionov's first NHL goal at 3:19 of the third period broke a tie and gave the Kings a 4-3 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes at the Staples Center.

Loktionov controlled the puck behind goaltender Justin Peters, moved to his left and threw the puck off Peters' stick and through his legs into the net, snapping a 3-3 tie as the Kings improved to 4-1-0 and completed a perfect three-game homestand.

"To get it out of the way, the first one, I think it will help him relax," center Anze Kopitar said of Loktionov. "He'll be making plays. Watch out for him."

But the victory came at a price: Drew Doughty, a Norris Trophy finalist last season, didn't come out for the second period after colliding with Carolina's Erik Cole late in the first. The Kings say he has an upper-body injury, and coach Terry Murray said Doughty won't make the trip for Thursday's game at Phoenix, the start of a five-game trip.

"We're not going to take him. He might join us on the trip," Murray said.

Jonathan Bernier, making his second start of the season, made 27 saves, 15 in the third period -- including a stop on Cole's breakaway three minutes after Loktionov's goal. Peters, making his first start of the season as coach Paul Maurice gave starter Cam Ward the night off, stopped 23 shots.

Bernier stood tall as the Kings killed off a pair of Carolina power plays in the third period after Dustin Brown was twice called for interference.

"It's been good from the very start," Murray said of the Kings' penalty-killing, which was perfect in three tries. "That's what you have to have if you're going to win one-goal games in this League -- you've got to have your penalty-killing going at the right time."

The Kings also got goals by Ryan Smyth, Michal Handzus and Kopitar.

Carolina, playing the sixth of a seven-game, season-opening trip that has already taken them to Finland, Ottawa, Vancouver and San Jose, got first-period goals from Chad LaRose and Eric Staal and a second-period tally by rookie Jeff Skinner -- the first NHL goal for the seventh pick in June's Entry Draft. The 'Canes have two days off before visiting Phoenix, then get to go home for their first game at the RBC Center next Wednesday against Washington.

Coach Paul Maurice was pleased with just about everything except the final score.

"I liked a lot of what we tried to do," he said. "We had a lot of fight in our game, a lot of jump. We had scrums around the net and couldn't put it in.
"I hate l losing, but I'm pretty impressed with 80, 85 percent of our team. I like the way our club played tonight."

The Kings hadn't allowed a first-period goal all season, but they surrendered two in a span of 10:15 after Smyth's goal gave L.A. an early lead.

LaRose took a pass from Staal and zipped a shot from below the left faceoff dot over Bernier's catching glove and under the crossbar at 7:31 for his second goal in two nights. Staal, who also scored in Tuesday night's 5-2 win at San Jose, pickpocketed Kings' defenseman Jack Johnson at the Carolina blue line, led a 2-on-1 and snapped a shot from the right circle behind Bernier at 17:46 for a 2-1 lead.

But the Kings tied it with 8.5 seconds left in the period when Wayne Simmonds' shot from the left circle hit Alex Ponikarovsky's stick, then deflected off Handzus in front of the net and deflected past Peters.

The Kings went back in front at 6:58 of the second on Kopitar's first of the season, a laser from inside the left circle after Brown forced a turnover behind the net and found him with a perfect pass. But Skinner tied the game for a third time at 14:39 when he backhanded the rebound of Anton Babchuk's shot into the net.

"He took a shot, and I just sort of found the rebound and sort of slapped at it, and it went in," Skinner said. "I think we had some good scoring chances. (Bernier) just made some saves at big moments. In the next game, maybe we’ll get a bounce."
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