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Second-period outburst carries Devils past Kings

by Curtis Zupke /

LOS ANGELES -- The New Jersey Devils talked about how their three-game California trip would determine their fate toward getting into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They backed that up with one of their best periods of the season Wednesday.

Steve Bernier's second goal of the game triggered a three-goal burst in a 68-second span of the second period and New Jersey beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-3 at Staples Center.

The Devils (16-21-8) had 11 different players on the scoresheet to begin a three-game swing that continues Friday against the Anaheim Ducks. They are 3-1-1 in their past five games, a positive sign under their new coaching regime.

"It's nice to be playing better hockey, but I think we need to show up on Friday night in Anaheim with the same game," goalie Cory Schneider said. "We've kind of been up and down. We'll have a good game and we'll have a really bad game … for us, it's more about our consistency and where we're at as a group night to night."

The Kings (20-14-10) are 1-2-2 on a seven-game homestand and have allowed 20 goals in those five games.

Bernier had his first multigoal game since 2013 playing on a line with Adam Henrique and Scott Gomez, who had two assists. Bernier was a scratch in the previous two games.

"It took me a good 10 minutes to get into the game," Bernier said. "It's been [eight] days since the last game I played. But you know what? When you play with two guys like [Gomez] and Henrique, they're very good at making plays and holding onto the puck."

Bernier, whose boarding major in Game 6 of the 2012 Stanley Cup Final facilitated the Kings' first Cup, got his second goal of the night when his pass to Mike Cammalleri bounced off Kings defenseman Drew Doughty's skate and into the net at 8:57 of the second, breaking a 1-1 tie. Marty Havlat beat Kings goalie Martin Jones with a wrist shot to the upper right corner at 9:20, and Cammalleri tapped in a loose puck for his team-leading 14th goal and the 250th of his career at 10:05.

"We had everybody going tonight," interim co-coach Lou Lamoriello said. "Every line contributed. The defense, we lost one [defenseman Marek Zidlicky] in the first period [and had] one in the penalty box. Everybody just [made it up] where they had to. It was a team effort."

Schneider made 23 saves and is 4-1-0 in five career regular-season starts against the Kings. Schneider was idle for five days and the Devils had four days off.

"I thought we had three real good days of practice," Lamoriello said. "Tonight was an indication of the week we put in."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter wanted to give starting goalie Jonathan Quick a night off, but he inserted Quick after Havlat's goal marked three goals on eight shots against Jones, who was coming off a 19-save shutout. Quick allowed two goals, and Sutter put Jones back into the net for the third period.

Michael Ryder made it 5-1 when he outmuscled Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin near the net for a rebound goal at 17:05. Bernier opened the scoring when he knocked in Cammalleri's pass in the crease at 19:46 of the first period with Jarret Stoll in the penalty box for holding.

The Kings had opportunities early but went 0-for-3 on the power play in the first period. They finished 0-for-4 with a total of one shot, and their penalty-killers allowed two goals to cap a defensive breakdown two nights after a solidly-structured 2-0 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"We didn't get the momentum or goals that we needed on power plays," forward Justin Williams said. "Deflating, and it's on us, on the players that get the ice time that are expected to score goals, to not only produce, but create energy and momentum. We didn't do that."

Dustin Brown ended a 17-game scoring drought and tied the game 1-1 at 1:16 of the second period, off a slick rush by Doughty. Marian Gaborik got his team-leading 15th goal at 7:16 of the third and Mike Richards scored his second goal since Nov. 26 by beating Schneider with 58 seconds left.

Sutter also pointed to special teams. The Kings have allowed seven power-play goals in their past six games, including two on four chances to the Devils.

"Our penalty kill is just draining us," Sutter said. "It takes so much out of your team. [The Devils] score the goal at the end of the first and then you come back and score, and then you give it up right away. It's disappointing."

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