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Quick, Kings hang on to top Hurricanes

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter is known to shake up his lines to great effect, and his latest moves had a big impact on the outcome of the game Thursday.

Trevor Lewis and Tanner Pearson, each of whom was playing on a new line, scored second-period goals to lift the Kings to a 3-2 win against the Carolina Hurricanes at Staples Center.

Pearson, demoted to the fourth line and in danger of being scratched, scored the game-winner, ending an 11-game goal drought, when he batted in a loose puck at the goal line at 2:59 of the second, 38 seconds after the Hurricanes had tied it. Mike Richards' initial shot bounced off Carolina goalie Cam Ward's shoulder.

"I think whenever you kind of go in a drought, and obviously I haven't been playing my best hockey as of lately, but definitely this game helps a lot," Pearson said. "I think playing with [Richards] and [Kyle Clifford], they're both going to be in their face and forechecking kind of guys. [Richards] can make some really good plays, and [Clifford] and I can go to the net, and hopefully something happens, which, today, it did."

Carolina, which came from behind to defeat the Dallas Stars 6-4 on Tuesday, gave itself a chance for at least a point in a game in which Los Angeles (11-5-4) dictated pace and play, but the Hurricanes couldn't convert late with Ward on the bench in favor of the extra attacker.

Ward made 36 saves in his matchup with fellow Conn Smythe winner Jonathan Quick, who made a glove save on Elias Lindholm with 1:32 left in the third and Carolina playing with the extra attacker.

Lewis, promoted to the top line, crashed the net and had the puck deflect off his skate and the blade of his stick before it slid across the goal line 37 seconds into the second. Drew Doughty and Marian Gaborik each put a shot on the Carolina net to create the chance.

The score might not have reflected it, but Lewis felt it was one of the Kings' more complete games.

"I thought we played a better game overall than just a couple of periods," Lewis said. "It's a step in the right direction, for sure."

Lewis had six shots on goal playing with Gaborik and Anze Kopitar. Sutter has always liked Lewis because of his grinding style, which can be adaptable in the Kings' system, and perhaps the promotion was a reward.

"I think [Kopitar] and [Gaborik] can play with anyone, really," Lewis said. "They're great players. I've just got to do my job, and get in and get pucks to them and get to the net."

Carolina (6-10-3) regretted not taking advantage of three power plays in the first period, especially because the Hurricanes had trouble competing against the bigger Kings in their own end.

"We had a hard time handling their size and strength on the walls, and they wore us out in the D zone," Carolina coach Bill Peters said. "They were heavy. They were a big, heavy team in the offensive zone. We spent too much time in there tonight."

Hurricanes captain Eric Staal tied the game 1:24 after Lewis' goal when he scored a power-play goal with a backhand off the rebound of Jeff Skinner's shot. Kings forward Tyler Toffoli was in the penalty box for high sticking against Brett Bellemore at 2:13 of the second.

Staal earned his 700th career point with an assist on Skinner's goal late in the first. Skinner made it 1-1 when he scored on a 2-on-1 by beating Quick to the blocker side at 17:16. Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin got caught after making a hit, leaving Doughty alone to defend.

The Hurricanes had one shot over three man-advantage opportunities in the first period, when they had five total shots.

"They were real aggressive, quick," Staal said. "We knew that going in. We just needed to do a better job of creating some routes and moving the puck around. You've got to give credit to them. They were aggressive and they were in your face and they were fast. I'm sure they remember the last game we played them in our rink (a 3-2 Carolina win Nov. 2), and they were better."

Jarret Stoll 's second goal of the season at 7:53 put Los Angeles ahead 1-0. Stoll chipped Dustin Brown's feed high over Ward after nice work down low by Brown.

The Kings have the most wins (10) and points (21) at home in the NHL, and their 10-2-1 home start is their best since 1992-93, when they opened 12-1-0 at the Forum.

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