Drew Doughty didn’t exactly follow instructions, but he did score a huge goal.
On the power play in overtime, the Kings drew up a play to get a one-time shot for Jarret Stoll. Instead of making the pass, though, Doughty shot and got the game-winning goal as the Kings beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 on Monday night at STAPLES Center.
Doughty’s goal, 3:40 into overtime, gave the Kings two points in the ultra-tight Western Conference playoff race. The Kings moved back into fifth place in the West, but are tied in points with Nashville and just two points ahead of seventh-place Colorado.
``All around, it was a good team win,’’ said Kings winger Ryan Smyth, who had two goals. ``It's a dogfight, right to the end, for the playoff positions, and tonight we played desperate and wanted to win. I am sure we will look at it again and critique a couple of things. By in large, it was a good effort for the team.
``It is gut-check time now, and it is important that we fight through adversity. Whether you are behind a goal or up a goal, you've got to come to play. This is the fun time of the year. We want to make it to the postseason and we will see what happens from here.’’
The game-winning goal came 19 seconds into an overtime power play, as Doughty scored on a 40-foot slap shot and beat Colorado goalie Craig Anderson.
``If I actually told you how the play was drawn up on the board, you'd be upset at him shooting the puck,’’ Murray said with a laugh. ``But he read the play. That was not the designed play that we talked about, but it was a great read on his part, because their forward took away Stoll. They were looking for him to get the puck back for the one-timer, and he's got a reputation for being able to score from that side. They cheated on it, they stayed in front of Stolly, and that's a good read by Doughty.’’
The goal was the fifth game-wining goal of the season for Doughty, who now leads all NHL defensemen in that category.
``It was huge,’’ Doughty said of the overtime win. ``Our power play, this year, has been good 5-on-4, but 5-on-3 and 4-on-3 we've been struggling for some reason. We knew it was our chance to shine, and we needed to get that goal. We drew up a play on the board, and we scored before we had to do the play.’’
Smyth had two goals, and Stoll and Anze Kopitar each had two assists as the Kings inched closer to a playoff spot. Jonathan Quick made 18 saves for the win.
The Kings improved to 28-0-0 when leading after two periods, but this one didn’t come easy. The Kings trailed 1-0 early after putting a puck in their own net, and allowed Colorado’s T.J. Galiardi to tie the game with 10 seconds remaining in regulation, but the Kings responded well to the adversity.
The Kings won, in large part, because of special teams. They went 2-for-3 on the power play and 5-on-5 on the penalty kill, and have now killed 29 consecutive penalties.
Entering Monday, the Kings and Avalanche had faced off only once this season, but they will play again Wednesday and then again on the final day of the regular season.
Monday’s game didn’t start well for the Kings, who caught a bad break as they fell behind 7:14 into the first period. Chris Stewart held the puck along the left boards, then sent it to the front of the net. Fredrik Modin tried to deflect it away, but instead put the puck pas his goalie, Jonathan Quick, and directly into the back of his own net.
After the bad-break goal, the Kings scored less than three minutes later, on the power play, on a nice tic-tac-toe passing play. Anze Kopitar passed wide to Jarret Stoll, who then sent the puck to the front of the net. Smyth tapped in the pass from close range to beat Anderson at the 9:51 mark.
The Kings took a 2-1 lead with 4:19 remaining in the second period. Simmonds controlled the puck behind the net, then carried it out front. After first looking as though he would go wide with the puck, Simmonds fired a sharp backhand shot and beat Anderson.
Colorado tied the game 2-2 at the 4:54 mark of the third period. Milan Hejduk's neutral-zone pass got past Randy Jones and onto the stick of Mueller. A quick 2-on-1 developed, and Mueller kept the puck and beat Quick with a wrist shot from the right side.
Smyth's second goal of the game gave the Kings the lead 9:55 into the third period. Justin Williams sent the puck down low, behind the Colorado net, and Smyth beat Anderson with a wraparound shot.
Colorado sent the game to overtime with a goal with 6.6 seconds remaining in regulation. Mueller made a nice neutral-zone pass to Paul Stastny, who made a move around Rob Scuderi. Quick attempted a poke check, but couldn't get the puck and Galiardi knocked it into the net.
``Obviously it was pretty disappointing,’’ Doughty said of Galiardi’s goal. ``We can't be letting those goals in late in the game like that. The last minute of periods are very important, and especially the third period. So getting that win was huge, but a little disappointing that we gave them that point.’’
The Kings were able to regain their composure, though, and got a great opportunity when Colorado's Ruslan Salei was called for cross-checking Justin Williams in front of the net 3:21 into overtime. Doughty scored the game-winner 19 seconds later.
LAKings.com's NOTES The Kings magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 13 (points earned by Kings plus points lost by Calgary)...Drew Doughty now has five game-winning goals (first among NHL defensemen)
...Jonathan Quick is now tied with Kelly Hrudey and Mario Lessard for the fifth most games in Kings single season history (64)
...The Kings have now killed 29 straight penalties (team record is 46 in 2001-02)
...The Kings are 54-59 on the PK the last 17 games (91.5 percent) and 38-40 in the last 11 games (95 percent)
... Anze Kopitar (2a) tonight now has 41 on the season (his career high is 45 in 2007-08)
...The Kings are now 12-5 in OT/SO this season (the 29 OT points ties the 2003-04 club for most in Kings history)
...The Kings 42 wins are four shy of the club record of 46, set in 1990-91
...Justin Williams earned his first point since Dec. 15 at Edmonton
...Matt Greene played in his 300th career NHL game.