The Los Angeles Kings know the uphill challenge they face to get in the post-season. They need to win and then get a lot of help.
The Kings accomplished the first task with Drew Doughty, Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar each scoring a power-play goal in a 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night to preserve their slim playoff hopes.
Ben Bishop made 19 saves and Tanner Pearson and Jake Muzzin also scored for the Kings, who trail Nashville for the second wild card in the Western Conference by eight points with nine games to play.
“Well we’re still alive, so take it game by game and two points at a time,” Pearson said. “That was a start for us and hopefully we can keep this one going.”
Gaborik put the Kings ahead 2:01 into the third period, and Doughty doubled the lead 1:56 later as Los Angeles emphatically broke out of a 1-for-13 slump with the man advantage.
Pearson then added a short-handed goal with 10:38 remaining.
The Kings had four goals on special teams for the first time since scoring four power-play goals against San Jose on April 5, 2012.
“After a game like this where we did a lot of good things you kind of bottle that,” said Kopitar, who has five goals in his last 10 games and nine points in that span. “You remind yourself that you still got it and you go out on Saturday and do the same.”
Patrik Laine and Mathieu Perreault each scored and Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves for the Jets, who had their three-game winning streak endalong with whatever chances remained for an unlikely late playoff push. Winnipeg is 12 points back of the Predators with eight games remaining.
The Jets took the lead on Perreault’s goal 6:54 into the game, then regained it on a 5-on-3 power play when Bishop retaliated with a whack at Perreault after being run over and Doughty was called for delay of game six seconds into the slashing penalty.
Laine’s shot was deflected wide by Alec Martinez but bounced off the boards and back into the crease, where Bishop unknowingly kicked it into his own net with 1:19 left in the opening period to make it 2-1.
But after Muzzin finally tied it up at 2 on a long shot late in the second with Hellebuyck unable to see it because of Jeff Carter and Bryan Little wrestling for position right in front of him, the Jets had to expend too much energy on their struggling penalty kill.
“It’s 2-2 going into the third, so you battled fairly hard on the road,” Jets head coach Paul Maurice said. “Then we just got into the box and that was the end of it.”
Relying on their top players, playing Kopitar and Doughty with “That 70s Line” of Carter, Tyler Toffoli and Pearson as their main power play, the talent gap with the third-worst penalty kill in the league was obvious. It only grew as the Jets’ special teams had to remain on the ice.
“We got to find somebody to get in front and in their shooting lane,” Maurice said. “It’s not a matter of laziness. We just got into tough spots that we weren’t physically able to get on the right side of the puck strong on it.”Report Typo/Error