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Kings win 5-2 to hand Penguins first road loss

by John Kreiser /

A rare visit from the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins gave the Los Angeles Kings a chance to make a statement. They made one -- loud and clear.

Los Angeles scored four unanswered goals in the third period to overtake the Penguins 5-2 on Thursday night, handing the Penguins their first road loss in eight games this season and extending their own unbeaten streak in regulation to eight games. Anze Kopitar tied the game at 6:17 with his second of the night, Jarrett Stoll and Michal Handzus scored 23 seconds apart and Dustin Brown added an insurance goal as the Kings won going away.

"It wasn't even a period, it was 13 minutes or whatever it was," Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby said. "They played better for that time span, and we didn't. We didn't generate as many shots throughout the game as we'd like to. We had some pretty good scoring chances that didn't go in, and then the ones they got late in the game, they capitalized on."

The Kings are on a 6-0-2 run -- their best stretch in nine years -- and at 10-4-2 through 16 games, they're turning preseason talk about making the playoffs into reality.

"They've got a lot of skill and create a lot of offense," Crosby said. "Against a team like that, if you're not playing well and you're making mistakes, you're going to pay for it."

Pittsburgh began the third period with a 2-1 lead, but Kopitar tied it at 6:17 when he picked up the rebound of Justin Williams' shot, came out from behind the net and tucked the puck inside the post to the right of Marc-Andre Fleury. It was his NHL-best 26th point of the season.

"They've got some talent up front," Fleury said.

The Kings then took control of the game, and Stoll put them ahead at 12:09, just 19 seconds after the Penguins failed to capitalize on a power play. Brown picked off a clearing try by Fleury along the left boards and spotted Stoll coming off the bench. Stoll raced in and beat Fleury with a rising wrist shot from 10 feet for the go-ahead goal.

With the sellout crowd of 18,118 at Staples Center rocking, Handzus ratcheted up the decibel level some more when he swatted home a loose puck at 12:32 after Alexander Frolov slid a pass into the crease. Brown added an insurance goal with 2:30 remaining, scoring from the lower left circle during a delayed penalty after the Kings controlled the puck for nearly 30 seconds.

"Even when we were down 2-1, we still felt it was our game," Brown said. "We kind of wore them down as the period went on."

Added Stoll: "Right from the start of the third, you could feel the momentum building and building. I think it was just a matter of time before we got that goal -- and we got it and kept rolling."

The Kings improved to 10-4-2 and are 6-0-2 in their last eight games, their best stretch in nine years.

The Penguins (12-4-0) had won their first seven road games, matching New Jersey. They are two of five teams that have started the season 7-0-0 on the road, three short of the record set by the 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres. They allowed more than four goals in a game for the first time this season.

It was the first game against his old team for defenseman Rob Scuderi, who helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup last spring before signing with the Kings as a free agent during the summer.

The game got off to a wild start, with the teams trading goals in the first 70 seconds.

Kopitar got the crowd revved up when he beat Fleury 27 seconds into the game for a 1-0 lead. He picked up the puck in his own zone, raced through center and broke for the net just as defenseman Kris Letang moved slightly in the other direction to open a lane. Kopitar deked Fleury before putting a backhander into a wide-open net for his 12th of the season.

The lead didn't last long, as Jordan Staal got his first goal in 10 games by beating Quick with a one-timer from well beyond the top of the left circle at 1:10. Staal stepped into a pass from Chris Conner and beat Quick to the far corner.

Play quieted down after that, and the first period ended in a 1-1 tie with the Kings outshooting the Penguins 7-6.

Pittsburgh went ahead at 10:51 of the second period when defenseman Brooks Orpik took  a shot from the top of the right circle and Chris Kunitz, stationed in the slot, got a piece of it with his stick and deflected the puck past Quick.

But that lead melted like a popsicle on a Southern California highway under the Kings' third-period onslaught.

"I think we'd like to be a little better," Crosby said. "We didn't play great, and sometimes you get away with that. It's a good lesson for us. We've gotten away with a bad period in the past. Tonight we didn't capitalize on our chances and we didn't play well in the third. In a game like that, you can't afford to have that happen.

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