-- Terry Murray sees a team that has all the ingredients necessary to make the playoffs. Now it might be up to Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi to give his coach that one extra superstar or a few depth players so the Kings could become legit Stanley Cup contenders.
Looking like the battle-tested and resilient playoff team they are striving to become, the Kings scored twice in the final 106 seconds Sunday to earn a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over New Jersey at the Prudential Center and finished off their first 5-0 road trip in franchise history.
Wayne Simmonds scored the tying goal at 18:14 of the third period and Drew Doughty
was credited with the power-play winner with 27.3 seconds left as the Kings rallied from a 2-0 deficit for their sixth straight win.
It's the Kings first six-game winning streak since late in the 2001-02 season.
"To get five wins on the road at this time of the year and with the desperation everyone is playing with, that's pretty remarkable actually," Murray said. "And, this game was a real good look at the kind of team we are starting to become. A lot of character, big heart, never gave up. It looked at times like it was slipping big time on us, and then just to dig in and find a way to get it done, it was tremendous."
The Kings started their road trip on Jan. 23 by coming back from a 2-0 hole to win in Detroit, 3-2. They picked up easy wins in Toronto and Columbus, but had to come back again Saturday night in Boston before winning in a shootout, again by a 3-2 margin.
Roughly 18 hours later, they were back at it in New Jersey and found themselves trailing, 2-0, on goals by Johnny Oduya in the first period and Travis Zajac
5:54 into the second.
"I don't think we had a lot of energy and speaking for myself, I was pretty tired, especially in the first period," Kings center Anze Kopitar
However, Michal Handzus gave the Kings life by scoring a huge goal with just 29 seconds left in the second period, making the deficit a more manageable 2-1.
Devils defenseman Mike Mottau coughed the puck up to Scott Parse
behind the goal and Parse set up Handzus in the slot. He beat Martin Brodeur
(19 saves) for his 12th goal of the season.
"Oh, that makes a world of difference," Simmonds said of getting a late goal.
Before the Kings could celebrate their comeback, they had to kill off a pair of penalties in the third period.
Ryan Smyth was whistled for hooking at 11:16 and again at 15:58, but Kings goalie Jonathan Quick
preserved the one-goal deficit before Simmonds found gold at the end of a long backhanded shot.
Quick made 14 saves in the third period and stopped 26 overall for his 31st win of the season in his 50th start.
"There was a lot of pressure on Quick from that Zajac line (including Zach Parise
and Dainius Zubrus
)," Murray said. "Quick had to stick in with the pressure and again made some big stops. I think we fed off a lot of that energy."
and Smyth deserved a chunk of the credit on Simmonds' goal.
Richardson sealed off Devils rookie Patrick Davis on the right wing half boards to get possession. He sent a pass across the zone to Simmonds, who had just come on the ice after a late change. Simmonds played the puck off the left wing wall, took it through the circle and with his backhand sent it toward the net.
Smyth was in front of Brodeur, so Simmonds said he was hoping for a tip or at the very least a screen. That's exactly what happened and the puck squeezed through Brodeur's pads.
"When you're winning you know you kind of get lucky and you just find ways," Simmonds said. "That's what happened."
Fourteen seconds later, Devils defenseman Andy Greene
was guilty of hooking Kopitar, setting the Kings up with a power play in the final 60 seconds.
They worked the puck around the outside as Smyth, Kopitar and Jack Johnson
all touched it before it got to Doughty at the top of the zone. Doughty opened up a shooting lane with a little hesitation move and he fired from just inside the blue line.
Smyth was again in front of Brodeur and said this time he got a piece of the puck before it went into the net, but the goal was awarded to Doughty, his eighth of the season.
"(The Devils) are the lowest penalized team in the League, so a bit of a surprise for me was that there was a penalty with a minute left, but the guys responded," Murray said. "Kopitar makes a pretty good play off the half board to find the weak side and I thought Doughty's play, just to get possession of the puck and open up the middle lane with a subtle little move, to find that and then back away and shoot it with traffic … it's a pretty simple play but it takes a long time sometimes when you're working with young players to make it happen like that."
For the most part the Kings have been in the playoff hunt all season, but they finished January with a 10-4 record after losing five of their last seven in December. They head home as the fifth best team in the West, and just two points behind fourth-place Phoenix.
"To start this trip off in Detroit we were down 2-0 and never let up, came back and won the game and just built off that kind of an attitude," Murray said. "It's an attitude that is starting to stick with this group in here. There's a lot of pride and a lot of young guys that are figuring it out what it takes and that it's a 60-minute game. It was a tremendous effort here to finish it off. It makes a six hour flight a lot shorter."
Contact Dan Rosen at: email@example.com.