Montreal's Benoit Pouliot drove to the Kings net and put a shot on goal to the right of Jonathan Quick just after the opening faceoff. The Kings single-season all-time wins leader made the save, but was unable to control the rebound, leaving the puck in front of the net for a second attempt by Pouliot, which Quick again denied. The third attempt, however, was a different story as the puck squirted to the front of the goal mouth and the stick of Brian Gionta. Gionta quickly deposited his 19th goal of the season and just like that, LA trailed 1-0 with Pouliot and Scott Gomez earning assists on the play.
The quick goal appeared to stun the Kings who were out-shot 7-0 in the early going before establishing some sort of an offensive attack about seven minutes into the game.
LA would tie the score with less than two minutes remaining in the opening stanza, as Kopitar out-raced the Montreal defense for a loose puck and cut to the center of the ice where he easily beat Montreal starter Jaroslav Halak with a pretty back hand to tie the score at one goal apiece. Jack Johnson and Ryan Smyth earned assists on the play as LA emerged from an uneven first period tied at one.
“The start clearly wasn’t good. Montreal scored on the first shift," Kopitar said. "By the end of the first period we started to dictate play a bit more but in the second period we had some power play opportunities that we didn’t capitalize on. They also came back and scored a short-handed goal, which was frustrating. I don’t know what it is. We’re not going to try to find excuses for this, but we need to get better."
Early in the second period, the Kings were on the power play and clicking quite nicely in creating prime scoring chances aplenty, however, a quick breakdown led to a break by Dominic Moore who fired a slapper from just outside the left faceoff circle and beat Quick over his left shoulder at 4:33 and a 2-1 lead for the Habs, a lead they would never relinquish.
Montreal padded the lead just 36 seconds into the third period as Pouliot, Gionta and Gomez teamed up again with Pouliot getting the goal this time around and a 3-1 lead.
"I think (the Gionta line) started the game strong; strong first shift gave us a goal and the same thing early in the (third period) that was a really big goal for our team," Montreal head coach Jacques Martin said. "All through the game I thought they played strong at both ends of the ice.”
But LA would make a game of it later in the third period as Modin, in his home debut, corralled a loose puck in a crowd in front of the net at 7:12 and went to his back hand to beat Halak for his first goal as a King to cut the deficit to 3-2. Michal Handzus and Randy Jones earned the helpers on the play.
LA was buzzing in the last two minutes of the game but could not get the equalizer. Quick was pulled with just over a minute left and after the Kings could not keep the puck in the Montreal zone and Drew Doughty made a rare mistake, firing a pass that hit Montreal's Tomas Plekanec in the center of the ice and he beat Jones to the open net to seal the game 4-2.
Both teams totaled 25 shots on net, with Halak earning the win making 23 stops, while Quick took the loss, stopping 21-of-24.
Anze Kopitar scored his 30th goal of the season. His career high is 32, set in 2007-08... Kopitar, who played in his 300th NHL/Kings game tonight, has points in 14 of his last 15 games (11-10=21) ... Ryan Smyth has points in nine of his last 10 games (4-5=9) ... Jack Johnson has five assists in the last four games ... Michal Handzus has 10 points in his last 11 games (4-6=10) ... The Kings are still 13-4-1 in their last 18 games (11-3-1 in their last 15) ... The Kings are 5-1-1 in their last seven games at home ... The Kings are 13-4-0 against the Easter Conference this season ... Bob Miller missed tonight's game broadcast due to illness. Jim Fox and Daryl Evans called the game on FS West. Nick Nickson and Rich Hammond of LAKings.com called the game on KTLK AM 1150. This was just the 18th broadcast missed by Bob Miller and the first since Nov. 2, 2002 ... The Kings and the Kings Care Foundation tonight presented a $40,000 donation for the American Red Cross relief operation in Haiti.