BOSTON – Anze Kopitar put the fake on Tim Thomas, then thought better of trying to fake out reporters. Did the Kings perhaps steal two points in Boston on Saturday, Anze?
``Uh, yeah. Uh...mayb...yeah. A little bit. It wasn't a full robbery, but it was a little steal,’’ Kopitar said after the Kings rallied for a 3-2 shootout win over Boston at the TD Garden.
In that case, Kopitar was the one tip-toeing into the night. His shot led to the Kings’ first goal, he scored the game-tying goal and he scored a highlight goal in the shootout, as the Kings outlasted the Bruins 3-2 in six shootout rounds. Jarret Stoll got the winner.
Jonathan Quick drove the get-away car. The Kings’ goalie made 31 saves and pulled his teammates through a dreadful second period that threatened to end their perfect road trip.
The Kings fell behind 2-1 early in the third period, but Kopitar’s power-play goal, 4:29 into the third period, tied it, and the Kings improved to 4-0 on this road trip and leapfrogged idle Colorado for fifth place in the Western Conference.
The Kings remain two points behind Phoenix, which won Saturday, and are one point ahead of Colorado. The Kings have a chance to finish their road trip with a perfect record
``I just think that when we left home, we realized that it was desperation time,’’ Kings winger Wayne Simmonds said. ``We were barely hanging on to eighth place, and pretty much everyone behind us was winning. So I think we realized that, and we've been digging deep lately, and we've been getting the two points.’’
For a while, that prospect seemed wobbly at best. The Kings wore a path in the ice to the penalty box in the second period, as they took 25 minutes’ worth of penalties and nearly nursed their 1-0 lead through the entire penalty-filled period.
Dustin Brown’s first-period power-play goal held up until Marco Sturm used a burst of speed to score the game-tying goal with 4:44 left in the second period.
``We were running around a little out there in the second, but aside from that we had a strong first, a strong third, and the team battled,’’ Quick said. ``You go on a five-game road trip, like we are, you're going to have periods like the second period. You just have to know how to stay focused and to relax and play through it.’’
The Kings did that, and even overcame the adversity of Mark Recchi’s power-play goal, 1:20 into the third period, which gave Boston a 2-1 lead.
The lead lasted only three minutes, though, as Kopitar scored the tying goal on a laser wrist shot. Kopitar’s best work, though, was still to come.
In the first round of the shootout, Kopitar glided in against Tim Thomas, kept the puck moving forward and, as he went left, dangled the puck with only his right hand on the stick and maneuvered it around the prone goalie.
``I had it in my head the whole way,’’ Kopitar said of the shootout move. ``Just two weeks ago, or maybe not even two weeks, we got into a shootout with those guys. I was kind of thinking he was going to wait for my backhand. I figured I would change it up a little bit and it worked for me.’’
Stoll’s goal closed out the shootout for the Kings, and gave them a gritty win.
Certainly, not everything was pretty, but the Kings did manage two power-play goals against a Boston penalty-kill unit that was the league’s second-most efficient. And the Kings did rally from a third-period deficit on the road, never an easy task.
``We've seen that all year long, so far,’’ Quick said. ``We get down a goal, two goals, and we don't get frustrated. We battle back and find a way to win. We've done that time and time again so far this year. I said, at the beginning of the year, that we have a lot of character in this locker room. It really showed tonight.’’
The game was a rematch of a Jan. 16 game at STAPLES Center, a 4-3 Kings shootout victory, and the goalies stayed the same. Quick was strong early in Saturday's game, and helped the Kings keep the game scoreless.
After killing two Boston penalties, the Kings took the lead with a power-play goal with 7:54 remaining in the first period. Kopitar shot from just above the right circle and Brown, in front of the net, tipped the shot past Thomas.
The Kings appeared to have taken a two-goal lead 2:26 into the second period, but the goal was disallowed after video review showed that Simmonds deflected it in with a high stick. Simmonds would soon be involved in another big play.
At the 4:58 mark of the second period, Kopitar carried the puck into the neutral zone and was leveled by a shoulder check from Boston’s Mark Stuart. Simmonds immediately jumped on Stuart and the two fought, but Simmonds earned 19 minutes of penalties because of an instigator penalty and a misconduct penalty.
``I jumped in there,’’ Simmonds said. ``I got 19 minutes in PIMs because I talked to (Stuart) first. He dropped his gloves first, but it is what it is, and I did what I had to do. ... It was all instincts. When you see a teammate get hit hard like that, you've got to do something about it.’’
The Bruins tied the game, late in the second period, on their sixth power play of the game. Sturm -- after a fortunate bounce off a linesman -- held the puck, waited for a sliding Kings defenseman Drew Doughty to go by, and shot and scored with 4:44 remaining in the second period.
``There was a whole lot of momentum gained with all the power plays that Boston had,’’ Murray said. ``They really started to feel comfortable with the puck, and had a real attitude when the game got tied up. They really came at us with a lot of heavy play. They were banging us around pretty good, but we hung in there.’’
Boston took the lead on a power-play goal 1:20 into the third period. David Krejci got into the Kings' zone, up the right side, and sent a pass to the front of the net. Recchi was there in front to one-time the puck past Quick.
The Kings tied the game 2-2 near the end of what had been a dreadful power play. Kopitar made a simple play, taking a wrist shot from the right side, and with Michal Handzus parked in front of Thomas, the shot got through to tie the game 4:29 into the third period.
``Any time on the road, it's tough going into other buildings,’’ Stoll said. ``We knew they were struggling coming into this game. We just wanted to stay with a smart road game. We kind of got away from our game plan a little bit, but like I said, we found a way to win. One more game on this trip, and we can go home happy. Sixty more minutes to battle in New Jersey tomorrow, and we'll go from there.’’
Kings defenseman Jack Johnson missed the game with an arm injury, and Murray said Johnson’s status for Sunday’s game might be determined in the morning.