The focus was producing on home ice.
Returning to Los Angeles after a successful road swing that saw the Kings win three games on the east coast, extending their winning streak away from STAPLES Center to eight games, carrying over those efforts to home ice was a major focus for the Kings Saturday evening against the Winnipeg Jets.
Kings’ captain Dustin Brown set the tone for their approach Saturday, voicing his lead to Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times Thursday:
“When you look at the difference between us and the top teams in the league, their home records reflect what we don't have at home,” Brown said, “and that's just a matter of us having that grind mentality at home.”
In their 4-2 win over Winnipeg Saturday, it came down to early production for the Kings, it came down to starting with the momentum.
Early scoring can go a long way in pocketing momentum in your home building. The Kings, with three goals in the first 20 minutes tonight, did just that.
Lewis after hopping on Clifford’s pass, walked in on Ondrej Pavelec and just barely got the puck past Pavelec through his legs for his sixth goal of the season.
Anze Kopitar, who hadn’t scored in the past four games dating back to March 20 against the Washington Capitals, but has been monumental in every other aspect for the Kings since, followed Lewis’ opening tally with two goals of his own.
He did so, by hounding Winnipeg’s net as his line mate, Marian Gaborik, shot the puck.
Kopitar broke hard to the net on a rush that saw Marian Gaborik fire a shot on Ondrej Pavelec, as well as a Winnipeg defender’s stick, and had the rebound deflect off of him and into the back of the net to give the Kings a 2-0 lead with 12:07 remaining in the first period.
Ten minutes later, Kopitar sent home a rebound off of a Willie Mitchell shot that Gaborik initially deflected, and beat Pavelec with a back-hand rebound bid, giving the Kings a 3-0 lead with 2:23 remaining in the first period, upping his season goal total to 24.
Al Montoya replaced Pavelec to start the second period; a period that saw little action from either clubs, as play on both ends of the ice tightened up quite a bit after the Kings’ fierce opening period.
The Jets showed signs of life in the opening minutes of the third period, as Matt Halischuck cut the Kings’ lead to 3-1 1:54 in.
Tanner Pearson recovered Mitchell’s blocked shot, chipped it to Toffoli, who was off to the races, and beat Al Montoya from 30 feet out with a quick wrister to give the Kings a 4-1 lead with 15:01 remaining in regulation time.
Blake Wheeler registered a second and final goal for the Jets midway through the third period, but that was all the comeback Winnipeg would make.
Jonathan Quick made 24 saves on 26 Jets shots, including an absolute stunner of a stop in the final minute, robbing a Winnipeg forward as he was sprawled on his stomach with the toe of his skate.
With Toffoli’s goal tonight, the young forward now has four points (1G, 3A) in the Kings past four games.
Marian Gaborik, with two assists tonight, now has eight points (3G, 5A) in his nine games played in a Kings uniform.
Trevor Lewis has set a new personal single-season record by scoring his sixth goal tonight. Lewis’ previous highest goal total was five goals, set during the 2011-’12 campaign.
With six straight wins, the Kings record now sits at 44-25-6, and find themselves 10 points ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes for the Pacific Division’s third and final guaranteed playoff spot.
The Kings will continue their home stand Monday night, as the Minnesota Wild come to STAPLES Center for a 7:30 PM PST date.