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Kings use big second period to defeat Penguins

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- The line of Milan Lucic, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli has led the Los Angeles Kings offensively for most of the season. On Saturday, the Kings defensemen took charge.

Jake Muzzin had a goal and two assists, and Drew Doughty and Christian Ehrhoff each scored a goal when the Kings defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 at Staples Center.

It was the first time at least three Kings defensemen scored in the same game since March 17, 2007, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"Our coach put a lot of emphasis on the [defensemen] kind of jumping in and getting involved in the offense, and we've been working on it every day after practice," said Doughty, who played 30:08. "We know we have to do better, and we did a better job of it tonight."

Los Angeles took a 3-0 lead halfway through the second period before Pittsburgh battled back. Milan Lucic scored his second goal of the game into an empty net to help the Kings (16-8-1) win their fifth straight at home. They are 16-5-1 since an 0-3-0 start.

Chris Kunitz had a goal and two assists for Pittsburgh (14-9-2), which rallied shortly after a defensive lapse in the second period.

Sidney Crosby pulled the Penguins to 4-3 with his sixth goal 2:39 into the third. He redirected Brian Dumoulin's pass off the crossbar to finish a pretty sequence. Kunitz made the initial pass from the corner.

Crosby said it was too late, especially against the defensively oriented Kings.

"I thought it took us a while to get our feet under us and to really get that compete mentality that you need against a physical team like this, winning battles," Crosby said. "We got to it eventually. [But] it wasn't something we established early on."

Pittsburgh scored three goals on its first 12 shots to offset a four-goal second period by Los Angeles.

Muzzin capped it with an open shot from the left side at 12:18 after Anze Kopitar tied up two Penguins near the boards.

It completed three goals on four shots by the Kings. Ehrhoff, who played for the Penguins last season, got his first goal with the Kings at 9:53, and Lucic finished a rush with a shot under Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's right leg at 10:57.

Lucic is third on the Kings with nine goals and has five points in his past five games.

"I thought tonight, that line's effectiveness was because of [Lucic]," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "Really, the empty-net goal is the same goal as the wrist-shot goal. It's a power move. Not many guys can do that."

Muzzin set up Doughty's one-timer off a faceoff win by Jeff Carter on the power play at 2:26 to make it 1-0.

It was the first Kings goal in 81 shots on Fleury, who shut out the Kings twice last season. Pittsburgh had opportunities to give Fleury more support, notably two open looks that Phil Kessel couldn't bury.

"Our start wasn't great and it was kind of catch-up from there," Crosby said. "Even saying that, I thought we had a number of chances that I thought could have probably tied it, at least. Sometimes things have a way of working themselves out where you don't deserve it."

The Penguins were outshot 23-6 at the halfway point but salvaged the second period on goals by Kunitz and defenseman Olli Maatta, who was making his return after missing six games with an upper-bdy injury.

"I felt good," Maatta said. "I'm happy to be back out there. But I don't think we were good enough today. As a team, everybody has to do a better job, for sure."

Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang missed his first game this season with an undisclosed injury. Los Angeles center Trevor Lewis was scratched with an upper-body injury.

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