Kings defeat Hurricanes 5-2
Monday, 06.18.2012 / 10:46 PM
RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Kings certainly didn't want to be remembered as the team on the wrong end when Carolina ended its historic losing streak.
To that extent, there were some nervous moments Wednesday night when the Hurricanes rallied from a two-goal deficit, but the Kings answered with three consecutive third-period goals and beat the struggling Hurricanes 5-2 on Wednesday night before 13,510 at RBC Center.
The Kings broke their two-game losing streak and extended Carolina's misery, as the Hurricanes fell to 0-10-3 in their last 13 games, the longest losing streak since the team moved from Hartford. It was far from easy for the Kings though, as the Hurricanes rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game four minutes into the third period on Tuomo Ruutu's second goal of the game.
In the end, that only set things up for Randy Jones
to be the hero. Jones, a defenseman claimed off waivers from Philadelphia last month, played his first game with the Kings and scored the game-winning power-play goal at the 6:41 mark.
``It was a big lift,'' Kings captain Dustin Brown
said of Jones' goal. ``I don’t know if it was a relief, but a big lift, and then we just built off of that momentum. We kind of sensed, on the bench, after we scored that goal that it took a lot of wind out of their sails.''
scored an insurance goal with 9:55 remaining and Justin Williams
scored into an empty net with 1:41 to go. Anze Kopitar
had two assists to push his NHL-leading point total to 30 (14 goals, 16 assists).
``When you’re playing on the road and you’re playing a team that’s going through a rough stretch, there’s going to be times that there’s going to be desperation shown by that team,'' Kings coach Terry Murray said, ``and Carolina is exactly in that situation right now.
``They tied it up, and we got a break. We got a power play at a critical time, and we took advantage of it.''
The victory had extra-special meaning to at least three Kings.
Jones, claimed off waivers on Oct. 29, had sat and watched the previous four games, as Murray wanted to make sure Jones, who had hip surgery during the summer, was in NHL game-ready shape. Turns out, he was.
Jones played 16 minutes, 25 seconds -- mostly partnered with Jack Johnson
-- and also assisted on Jarret Stoll
's first-period goal. Jones, caught in a salary-cap crunch in Philadelphia, made a strong case to stay in the Kings' lineup.
``I felt pretty comfortable out there, but the most important thing is getting the two points,'' Jones said. ``We knew they were struggling and we knew they would be coming with all force, so I thought we played pretty solid, but the most important thing was getting the two points.''
Kings goalie Erik Ersberg
made 22 saves and won a decision for the first time since Dec. 13 of last year. Jonathan Quick
had made 12 consecutive starts as Ersberg, essentially exiled after a bad game in New York last month and -- in his coaches' eyes -- substandard play in practice, sat and watched.
Ersberg allowed two medium-to-long range goals but stood up well to pressure at the end of the first period and in the third period in particular.
``You always are a little rusty,'' Ersberg said of his long layoff. ``Obviously you try to work hard in practice and all that, but it’s a little different to play in the game. The guys helped me out, they blocked some shots and let me see most of the pucks, so that always helps when players do that for you.''
Finally, Justin Williams
won in a city that holds a lot of good memories for him. Williams, who won the Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006, got the empty-net goal and also made the pass that led to Jones' game-winning goal.
That goal capped the scoring, and the Kings also started it in the first period, one of their strongest periods of the season. The Kings outshot Carolina 13-2 in the period (and 31-24 for the game).
They also beat Carolina goalie Manny Legace, who made his season debut after being signed this week after an injury to Cam Ward.
The Kings didn't take long to put one past Legace, as Smyth scored a textbook Smyth power-play goal. Anze Kopitar
's wrist shot from the left circle hit Legace, then got tipped by Dustin Brown
in front, then found Smyth, who kicked it on his stick and tucked a quick forehand past Legace 3:31 into the game.
Just past the midway point of the first period, the Kings had an excellent chance when Bryan Rodney was whistled for tripping and, 10 seconds later, Joe Corvo went off for shooting the puck over the glass.
That gave the Kings a 5-on-3 power play for 1:50, and they had several strong scoring chances but the Hurricanes had two big blocked shots and Legace went post to post to make an outstanding leg save on Smyth at point-blank range.
The Kings took a 2-0 lead 2:01 into the second period, when Stoll got rewarded for some hard work in the corner. He dug out the puck, sent it up to Jones, then went to the front of the net just in time to tip in Jones' shot from the point.
The Kings continued to dominate the action in the second period, but the Hurricanes scored on a quick counterattack.
Ruutu scored from the top of the right circle, on a high shot that knuckled a bit as it beat Ersberg high. Rod Brind'Amour and Sergei Samsonov got assists with 4:35 left in the second period.
The rest of the second period was scoreless, but the Hurricanes retained momentum and scored early in the third period.
The Hurricanes did a good job of keeping the puck alive in the corner in the Kings' zone, then worked the puck up to Rutuu in the left circle. Ruutu turned and fired from the middle of the circle and beat Ersberg high and to the near post, 4:03 into the third period.
``He beat me,'' Ersberg said. ``I don’t really care if they score 10 (goals), as long as we score 11.''
The game didn't stay tied for long though, as Jones made his Kings debut a multi-point night with a power-play goal at the 6:41 mark.
The play started high, when Alexander Frolov faked a shot and fed the puck down low to Williams. Williams, with Michal Handzus
drawing attention right in front of the net, passed the puck through the crease to Jones, who jumped into the play, timed his run perfectly and tipped in Williams' pass.
``I was just trying to get to the net there and give Willie an outlet pass,'' Jones said. ``The guy has got great vision. He was able to feed it over to me and I just wanted to bang it in.''
The Kings got their two-goal lead back with 9:55 remaining in the third. Frolov worked the puck out of the corner to Simmonds down low, and Simmonds displayed some great stickhandling right in front of the net as he beat Legace from close range. Handzus also got an assist.
Sean O'Donnell was a healthy scratch in the game, in favor of Jones, and Peter Harrold
played fourth-line wing in place of Raitis Ivanans.