They’re coming home hot.
Winners of five straight, while matching a club record of eight straight wins away from Los Angeles that was originally set in the mid-70’s, it’s been smooth operating for the Kings of late as only eight games remain on the regular season’s slate.
Stinginess on the penalty kill was the stronghold for the Kings in their 3-2 win against the Penguins at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center Thursday evening, their first ever win in the Penguins’ four-year old facility.
The Kings’ numerous trips to the penalty box weren’t against a team of choice; the Penguins, who came into Thursday’s dance with the Kings as the league’s most lethal club on the power play with a 24% success rate.
Yet, the Kings shunned each and every one of the Penguins’ seven man-advantage opportunities, nixing what is arguably one of Pittsburgh’s biggest keys to their success.
It was important for the Kings to find the scoreboard first, as the Penguins had lost only three games in regulation when scoring the first goal of a game this season.
That, they did, as Jeff Carter tipped home a Marian Gaborik wrist shot for his 26th tally of the season as he stood pat in front of Jeff Zatkoff and Pittsburgh’s crease, giving the Kings a 1-0 lead with 3:37 remaining in the first period.
Alec Martinez, who is playing the best stretch of hockey in his pro career thus far, tacked on another goal for the Kings 6:59 into the second period to give the Kings a 2-0 lead.
It was the 10th goal of the season for Martinez, who has been on an utter tear as of late. The Kings’ defenseman now has points in four straight game (2G, 2A), and 11 points (6G, 5A) in his last 11 games.
Martinez’s goal came at the end of the Kings’ second power play of the evening. His slap shot from the point deflected off of a Pittsburgh stick in front of Zatkoff’s net, beating the Penguins goaltender off the left post and in.
Pittsburgh responded just :34 seconds after Martinez’s goal, as Chris Kunitz scored to cut the Kings lead to 2-1.
A bad bounce tied the game for the Penguins, when Tayler Pyatt’s snap shot from 20 feet out hit a standing Martin Jones in the upper chest, then ricochet over his shoulder and into the net.
Entering the third period tied at two, and after serving the Kings’ sixth penalty of the night, Drew Doughty walked into and lasered home the eventual game-winning goal.
Doughty shadowed Dustin Brown who entered Pittsburgh’s zone with the puck. Once Brown ran out of space, he dropped the puck for Doughty, who one-timed a slap shot past Jeff Zatkoff to give the Kings a 3-2 lead with 16:09 to play in regulation time.
Martin Jones held stable through the remainder of the third period, and made 24 saves on 26 shots Thursday evening to secure a win for the Kings in his first start since March 15 against the Anaheim Ducks.
The Kings, with their win Thursday at the Consol Energy Center, have now recorded a win in every current NHL building.
Along with the Kings’ current five game win streak, they’ve extended their road win streak to eight games, which ties a franchise record that was set from December 18, 1974 to January 16, 1975.
The Kings went 3-0-0 on their three game road trip through Pennsylvania and Washington D.D., and now return to STAPLES Center for a three game home stand that begins Saturday evening against the Winnipeg Jets.