It started with another one of those ``here-they-go-again'' moments. It ended with a series of goal celebrations and two big points, at the beginning of a difficult stretch of games.
The Kings allowed a goal early in the second period, moments after they had taken the lead. Rather than wilt, though, the Kings responded with one of the best periods of the season, scored three consecutive goals and went on to a 4-1 victory Sunday over the rival Anaheim Ducks before a standing-room-only crowd of 18,313 at STAPLES Center.
``I think we just got our legs underneath us, started skating and making plays,'' Kopitar said. ``I think we really got after them and really took the game to them.''
The Kings took a 1-0 lead 15 seconds into the second period, then allowed the tying goal 32 seconds later but scored three goals to blow open the game. The Kings tied their season low by allowing the Ducks to record only 19 shots on goal.
So the Kings emerged from their holiday break with a win, and a meaningful one, as they improved to 13-2-1 at home this season and 8-2-1 in their last 11 games.
``I think, over the past 10 games, we’ve been playing really well,'' said Kings winger Wayne Simmonds, who started the scoring with a second-period goal. ``After that little slide we had a little meeting, we talked about it. You can’t do things like that. If we have another one of those we’re out of the playoffs.
``It’s crucial now to get every two points you can. … You lose a game, you’re in 12th place. You win a game, you’re back in fifth. You never know what’s going to happen. Every game is a game you have to win to separate yourself from the other teams.''
Fans headed home happy, with a win over the rival Ducks. The Kings got to avenge a 2-0 loss to the Ducks on Nov. 29 and they also generated some momentum at the start of a week in which they will play three games in four nights and five games in seven nights.
There's little rest for the Kings, who play again Monday night in San Jose. The Kings passed the Sharks for fourth place in the Western Conference on Sunday, but both teams have 43 points (the Kings have played one fewer game than the Sharks).
The Kings were able to enjoy a substantial turnaround against the Ducks -- at least in terms of scoring -- compared to their previous meeting, last month in Anaheim. In that game, the Kings suffered their only shutout loss of the season to date, and Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller saw little sustained pressure as the Ducks blocked shots by the handfuls.
This time, Hiller didn't make it through the end of the second period. After 20 scoreless minutes in the first period, the teams traded goals in the first minute of the second period. From there, the Kings took over with three consecutive second-period goals.
Brown's power-play goal, with 2:03 remaining in the second, capped the big period and gave the Kings a 4-1 lead, and they maintained a high level in the third period.
``Bernier was pretty good here tonight,'' Kings coach Terry Murray said. ``He had a lot of pressure around him with pucks, and a lot of traffic. It looked like they had four guys at the top of the crease there, several different times, and he really held his ice and played big, played strong in the net.
``You collect those loose pucks, those rebounds, off strong play by him, and away you go the other way and you get what you're looking for. It was a big second period. We got some timely goals and it was a very timely win for us against our division rival.''
To get to the celebration, though, the Kings had to overcome a moment of consternation. The Kings have had a season-long trend of allowing a goal soon after they score one, and that tendency jumped up and bit the Kings in the second period Sunday.
Simmonds scored 15 seconds into the second period, and the Ducks' Matt Beleskey tied it 32 seconds later, but the rest of the game belonged to the Kings. They scored three more goals in the period, during which they outshot the Ducks 15-8.
``That goal that tied it up for them is just one of those plays that is a little frustrating,'' Murray said. ``We've been talking about it a lot, and everyone is aware of the issue there. But to come back right away, with that line, the Kopitar line, and get strong play to the net, just getting pucks to the net and hanging out at the crease, driving hard, looking for the rebounds, that pays dividends for you.
``That was good to see. They were hungry to get it back. They knew that there was a breakdown in our D-zone coverage, and they wanted to be the line that got it back, to get us that one-goal lead again.''
The Kings also did a solid job on the defensive end. Ryan Getzlaf had one assist but the Ducks' other two top scorers, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne, combined for zero points and five shots on goal.
``Every time you play against a line like Getzlaf’s, you want to make sure you don’t give a whole lot,'' Kopitar said. ``You want to shut them down first and, at the same time, you want to take it to them. Obviously nobody wants to defend all the time. You want to make them defend as much as you can.''
After a bit of a rough November, Bernier has now looked strong in consecutive games, following up a solid victory at Nashville with this victory over the Ducks.
``I think it wasn’t my greatest game for the rebounds,'' Bernier said. ``I felt like I gave away a lot of rebounds. But guys were there for me in the right spot there, and I was just trying to make that first save.''
Both teams had to endure a bit of a ragged start, not totally surprising given that the players had been off the ice for the previous two days for the league's holiday break.
The Kings outshot the Ducks 9-8 in a scoreless first period, and each team had one power play. The teams quickly made up for the lack of first-period action, though, as they traded goals in the first minute of the second period.
On the first shift of the period, Michal Handzus took the puck to the net and tried a backhand shot. The puck hit the stick of a Ducks defender in front and deflected to the left. It found the stick of Simmonds, who scored from close range to give the Kings a 1-0 lead 15 seconds into the period. Kyle Clifford also got an assist.
Just 32 seconds later, the Ducks tied the game, when Beleskey got the deflection on a long-range shot by defenseman Toni Lydman. Getzlaf also got an assist.
``It was going pretty high,'' Bernier said, ``and he got it at the right spot and it went five-hole. I tried to squeeze it but it was just a little too late.''
The Kings took a 2-1 lead 9:10 into the second period. Brown got the play started with a breakout pass, and Kopitar put the puck on net from the blue line. The long rebound went to Marco Sturm, who took a quick shot that was saved, and Kopitar came back into the play to knock in the rebound from close range.
``I think that's been happening a lot to us lately,'' Simmonds said. ``We have to start clamping down. We have to have better shifts after we score goals. i think that has happened quite a bit, actually, in the last couple games, and I think we've got to start clamping down on that. (But) we let that go. We still had high spirits. We thought we were taking it to them, and we just continued playing our game.''
Sturm recorded his first point with the Kings. After spending his first two games on the fourth line, Sturm moved up to the first line with Kopitar and Brown.
Williams gave the Kings a two-goal lead with 7:05 remaining in the second period. With the puck in the Ducks' zone, Ducks forward Joffrey Lupul lost it in his skates momentarily, and Williams pounced. Williams took the puck to the net and beat Hiller with a high wrist shot to give the Kings a 3-1 lead.
The Kings' fourth goal of the period -- on the power play -- was the last shot Hiller faced. Drew Doughty took a shot from just inside the blue line, and Brown was in the slot to pick up the rebound and score on a wrist shot. Jack Johnson also picked up an assist.
``I think the first period was not the best,'' Kopitar said, ``but coming out of the (holiday) break, when you're pretty much not doing anything for two days, I thought everybody -- even their guys -- felt a little sloppy and stuff like that. it is what it is, but then in the second period, I think we pulled the same rope, and we were doing all the right things and managed to score a few goals.''
The Kings have scored at least one power-play goal in eight of their last nine games.
``It's just shooting the puck,'' Murray said. ``That's all it is. Get it up top. Get it to your blue-line guys. When things are not going quite the way you diagram it, just get it up top, shoot the puck. And the puck comes right to Brownie for the rebound.''
Curtis McElhinney then replaced Hiller, who allowed four goals on 23 shots. McElhinney helped keep the Kings off the scoreboard from there, but the Kings outshot the Ducks 6-3 in the third period and were rarely in danger in the defensive zone.
1 - 0 LAK
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 LAK
3 - 1 LAK