Early in the third period, the Los Angeles Kings appeared to be cruising toward another comfortable win and the Ottawa Senators seemed to be trudging to another loss.
Four goals and 12 minutes later, the Senators had one of their biggest victories of the season – and the Kings had to figure out what just happened to them.
Mika Zibanejad scored a tie-breaking power-play goal with 6:50 to play, and Ottawa roared back from a late two-goal deficit for a 5-3 victory over the Kings on Saturday.
Bobby Ryan and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored 26 seconds apart earlier in the third as the Senators stunned the Pacific Division leaders and All-Star goalie Jonathan Quick for just their third victory in nine games.
"We were desperate for a win, and we found a way to get it done," said Craig Anderson, who stopped 30 shots in his 200th NHL victory. "We dug deep in the third, got some good hard plays by our guys and got a little bit of puck luck. We were able to get back in the game and take it over. Momentum swings was what today was all about."
Zibanejad set up Ryan's goal with a sharp pass, and he put the Senators ahead during a four-minute power play created by Nick Shore's high-sticking penalty. Anderson was strong in the final minutes, and Mark Borowiecki added an empty-net goal.
"We showed a lot of resiliency," said Alex Chiasson, who scored an early goal in his return from four games as a healthy scratch. "Our guys had a lot of jump today. Maybe the whole 60 minutes wasn't the way we wanted to play, but we found a way."
Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli each had a goal and an assist in just the second regulation loss in 10 games since Christmas for the Kings, who seemed just as surprised as their fans by their collapse in their return from a four-day break. Quick made 18 saves while losing in regulation for the first time in 11 starts since Dec. 14.
"I think we were lucky to ever have the lead in the game," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "We had lots of guys just playing shinny out there. We've been playing sloppy for quite a few games now. We used fatigue as an excuse the last three or four games. I think we didn't get much from top to bottom today."
Vincent Lecavalier scored his first goal for the Kings, and Anze Kopitar had an assist shortly after finalizing an eight-year, $80-million contract extension. The Slovenian centre has been Los Angeles' leading scorer in each of the last eight seasons, providing stellar two-way play for the two-time Stanley Cup champions, but he wasn't feeling upbeat afterward.
"That's something that obviously you can't do," Kopitar said. "When you make mistakes like that, teams are going to make you pay. We definitely can't be as sloppy as we were."
After Carter scored his 100th goal for the Kings in the first period, Lecavalier scored on a power play in the second.
The veteran centre's goal was the 412th of his NHL career, but his first since joining the Kings in a trade with Philadelphia last week. Lecavalier plans to retire this summer, but he's fitting in well as Los Angeles' third-line centre, playing the Kings' two-way style and excelling on faceoffs.
Toffoli made it 3-1 on an exceptional centring pass from Milan Lucic early in the third, but the Senators then took charge.
Ryan got a tap-in goal off a fine feed from Zibanejad, and Pageau evened it with his 10th goal on the next shift after Jake Muzzin misplayed the puck for Los Angeles.
NOTES: Anderson stopped Toffoli's first career penalty shot in the second period. ... Muzzin had an assist on Carter's goal, extending his points streak to a career-best six games. That's the longest points streak by a Los Angeles defenceman since December 2010, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and Motorhead drummer Mikkey Dee attended the game.