Kings stay hot, edge Senators for seventh straight win

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 11: Thomas Chabot #72 of the Ottawa Senators dives for a puck in front of Alex Iafallo #19 of the Los Angeles Kings during the second period at Staples Center on March 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 11: Rudolfs Balcers #38 of the Ottawa Senators and Sean Walker #26 of the Los Angeles Kings bump as they go for the puck during the first period at Staples Center on March 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 11: Bobby Ryan #9 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates his goal with Brady Tkachuk #7, to take a 1-0 lead over the Los Angeles Kings, during the first period at Staples Center on March 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 11: Brady Tkachuk #7 of the Ottawa Senators and Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings collide as they skate after the puck during the first period at Staples Center on March 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Kings’ Trevor Lewis #22 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his goal with Adrian Kempe #9, Blake Lizotte #46 and Matt Roy #3, to tie the score 1-1, with the Ottawa Senators, during the first period at Staples Center on March 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 11: Rudolfs Balcers #38 of the Ottawa Senators is checked by Sean Walker #26 of the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Staples Center on March 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 11: Craig Anderson #41 of the Ottawa Senators watches a shot sail by the post with Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings during the second period at Staples Center on March 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 11: Craig Anderson #41 of the Ottawa Senators makes a save as Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings looks for the rebound during the second period at Staples Center on March 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 11: Blake Lizotte #46 of the Los Angeles Kings reaches for the puck in front of Thomas Chabot #72 of the Ottawa Senators during the second period at Staples Center on March 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 11: Martin Frk #29 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his goal with Trevor Moore #12, to take a 3-2 lead over the Ottawa Senators, during the third period in a 3-2 Kings win at Staples Center on March 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 11: Craig Anderson #41 of the Ottawa Senators reacts to a goal from Martin Frk #29 of the Los Angeles Kings for a 3-2 Kings lead, during the third period in a 3-2 Kings win at Staples Center on March 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 11: Calvin Petersen #40 of the Los Angeles Kings makes a save in front of Anze Kopitar #11 during the third period in a 3-1 Kings win at Staples Center on March 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Ottawa Senators center Colin White, right, and Los Angeles Kings center Blake Lizotte fall as White tries to pass the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Ottawa Senators center Colin White falls as he tries to pass the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Kings center Trevor Lewis, left, celebrates his goal as Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson kneels at right during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Kings left wing Austin Wagner, left, and Ottawa Senators center Colin White fight during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Ottawa Senators left wing Rudolfs Balcers, left, and Los Angeles Kings defenseman Sean Walker battle for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Kings left wing Alex Iafallo, right, jumps out of the way of the puck as Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson makes a save during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Kings center Michael Amadio, lower left, falls as Ottawa Senators left wing Nick Paul, right, takes the puck as right wing Jayce Hawryluk, left, and left wing Anthony Duclair watch during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Kings defenseman Sean Walker, right, moves the puck as Ottawa Senators left wing Mikkel Boedker reaches in during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Kings left wing Alex Iafallo, left, goes after the puck along with Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk during the third period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. The Kings won 3-2. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Kings goaltender Calvin Petersen stops a shot during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Ottawa Senators Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. The Kings won 3-2. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Kings center Gabriel Vilardi, right, is congratulated by defenseman Matt Roy, second from left, and center Trevor Moore, second from right, after scoring as Senators goaltender Craig Anderson stands at goal during the third period of Wednesday’s game at Staples Center. The Kings won 3-2. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Kings center Gabriel Vilardi (42) celebrates his third-period goal with Trevor Moore (12), Matt Roy (3) and Martin Frk (29), as Senators goalie Craig Anderson shows his frustration after allowing the tying goal on Wednesday night at Staples Center. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, right, dives to stop a shot by Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown during the third period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. The Kings won 3-2. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Ottawa Senators center Chris Tierney, left, watches his shot as Los Angeles Kings goaltender Calvin Petersen deflects it during the third period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. The Kings won 3-2. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MARCH 11: A Los Angeles Kings fan reaches for the hand sanitizer before the game against the Ottawa Senators at Staples Center on March 11, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Empty seats are seen at the start of an NHL hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Ottawa Senators Wednesday, March 11, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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LOS ANGELES — Amid uncertainty about the remainder of the season, the Kings defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on Wednesday night in an unceremonious affair between non-playoff teams at Staples Center.

Martin Frk scored the go-ahead goal in the third period, Gabriel Vilardi had a goal and an assist, and the Kings earned their seventh consecutive victory. Trevor Lewis also scored and rookie Cal Petersen made 24 saves for the Kings, who are 10-2-1 in their past 13 games.

If this was the final game of the season, the Kings ended on a high note, avoiding the last-place position in the Western Conference.

The NCAA announced Wednesday that it would play its Division I men’s and women’s postseason basketball tournaments without fans, stating that only “essential staff and limited family” can attend. The NBA escalated from considering similar measures to suspending play indefinitely on Wednesday after Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, known commonly as the coronavirus.

The NHL made no formal announcement Wednesday but did issue a statement indicating league officials were still “consulting with medical experts and evaluating options.” An announcement is expected Thursday. With some of its franchises, including the San Jose Sharks, already facing closed-door games due to county or state mandates, an all-out moratorium on games might be imminent.

“The night felt strange. It didn’t feel like a normal game. There were not as many fans in the stands,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “Obviously the players heard the news before about the basketball game. It was a little bit unemotional.”

Former Duck Bobby Ryan and Jayce Hawryluk scored for Ottawa, which got 36 saves from 38-year-old goaltender Craig Anderson.

Team captain Anze Kopitar said a set roster with consistent lines and pairings helped the Kings get comfortable within McLellan’s system late in the season.

“The chemistry is there. We’re more connected on the ice. We kind of anticipate where the other guy’s going to be,” Kopitar said.

Frk, known for the record setting heft of his slap shot, scored with finesse, squeezing the puck between Anderson’s legs for the game-winning goal with 4:41 to play.

“It was a two-on-one going the other way for them and they messed up,” Vilardi said. “The D was flat-footed so I beat the first guy … I gave it to Marty. I think he tried to pass it honestly but it went in.”

With less than six minutes to play, the Kings created havoc on the power play when a shot by defenseman Drew Doughty caused Anderson to scramble. Right wing Dustin Brown swiped at the rebound to no avail.

The Kings had evened the score with 10:48 left in the game when Vilardi’s seeing-eye wrist shot from the right faceoff dot beat Anderson to the far side. It was Vilardi’s first career power-play goal.

It had been a long road from a year and a half dealing with back injuries for Vilardi to reach the NHL, and now his recent production, as well as the Kings’ streak, might reach an abrupt end. He drew praise from Kopitar and also assessed the current, unusual situation himself.

“It kind of (stinks). We want to play hockey,” said Vilardi, who has followed the serious COVID-19 situation in Italy as an Italian-Canadian and Serie A soccer fan. “But if it’s done, obviously health and safety comes first. If that’s what happens, there’s not much you can do.”

Just shy of two minutes into the third period, Ottawa took its second lead of the night. Hawryluk got position down low and redirected defenseman Andreas Englund’s shot past Petersen.

The second period saw no scoring to break the 1-1 tie, but it did offer a steady pace and a fierce hit by Brown on Senators defenseman Christan Wolanin late in the frame.

The score was tied going into the first intermission, but not before right wing Austin Wagner and Ottawa center Colin White threw down behind the Kings net in a spirited bout. Frk also hit something, the post, when he struck it with a shot as the period wound down.

The Kings knotted the score at one just past the halfway mark in the first period. Lewis ignited the rush with a long pass up the ice and finished it when he drove the net to push in a rebound generated by left wing Adrian Kempe. Later in the frame, they had an extended 5-on-3 power play but could not convert.

Ottawa opening the scoring just 29 seconds into the game. The Kings were flummoxed defensively as left wing Brady Tkachuk dropped behind the net and sent a pass across the crease for Ryan. Ryan rifled a one-timer in a large opening. Doughty was covering down low, failed to disrupt the pass, the shot or the shooter.

Ottawa got on the board 29 seconds into the game. The Kings were flummoxed defensively as left wing Brady Tkachuk dropped behind the net and sent a pass across the crease for Ryan. Ryan rifled a one-timer into a large opening. Doughty was, ostensibly, covering down low. But he failed to disrupt the pass, the shot or the shooter.

“I could feel in warmup that the energy just wasn’t the same, between both teams,” McLellan said. “The start of the game was not what we wanted, but I think once we got playing and our minds went there, we were okay.”

“Next year is next year – it starts all over again… What we’re doing now will help us, but it doesn’t guarantee us success in the future”

Coach Todd McLellan addresses the media after the game & looks ahead to the future of the @LAKings#LAKingsLive pic.twitter.com/b1QM2zXVF7

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 12, 2020

FRK yeah – the @LAKings take the lead 🔥@Frky91 makes it 3-2

#GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/zTct3aVEPI

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 12, 2020

“It feels pretty good to win hockey games – it’s what we wanna do” 😎@Gabe_Vilardi13 shares his thoughts after the win@LAKings | #LAKingsLive pic.twitter.com/DBd5C4F7iq

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 12, 2020

🚨🚨@Gabe_Vilardi13 with a PPG 🚨🚨

All tied up at ✌@LAKings | #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/IQRsx75TUr

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 12, 2020

“It’s very fun – it’s always fun when you’re winning games”@Frky91 reflects on this 7-game win streak@LAKings | #LAKingsLive pic.twitter.com/G9QazJjtbI

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 12, 2020

LOVE a Trevor Lewis goal 🙌@trevorlewis22 puts the @LAKings on the board!#PuckPickEm | #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/OV9IS6NKMS

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 12, 2020

Read more about Kings stay hot, edge Senators for seventh straight win This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

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Surging Kings ride first-period lead to 6th consecutive win

  • Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick stops a penalty shot from the Avalanche’s Valeri Nichushkin during the second period of Monday’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • The Kings’ Mikey Anderson, right, celebrates his goal with teammates during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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  • Colorado’s Valeri Nichushkin (13) is defended by the Kings’ Sean Walker during the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • The Avalanche’s Matt Nieto, right, skates past the Kings’ Austin Wagner (51) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Colorado’s Nikita Zadorov (16) controls the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Kings Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick, right, stops a shot from the Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon during the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon (29) is chased by Los Angeles Kings’ Ben Hutton (15) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Colorado Avalanche’s Ian Cole (28) checks the Kings’ Blake Lizotte (46) against the boards during the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • The Kings’ Martin Frk (29) is chased by Colorado Avalanche’s Joonas Donskoi during the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Colorado Avalanche’s Ian Cole (28) clears the puck in front of the Kings’ Trevor Moore (12) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • The Kings’ Adrian Kempe (9) shoots next to Colorado Avalanche’s Samuel Girard (49) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • The Kings’ Blake Lizotte (46) is defended by Colorado Avalanche’s Matt Nieto (83) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • The Kings’ Adrian Kempe (9) is defended by Colorado Avalanche’s Erik Johnson (6) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • The Kings’ Nikolai Prokhorkin (74) pushes Colorado Avalanche’s Nikita Zadorov (16) against the boards during the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • The Kings’ Mikey Anderson (44) celebrates his goal with teammates during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz, bottom, stops a shot against the Kings during the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Los Angeles Kings’ Trevor Lewis, left, works against Colorado Avalanche’s Tyson Jost during the third period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Colorado Avalanche’s Vladislav Namestnikov (90) is defended by Los Angeles Kings’ Drew Doughty, right, during the third period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick stops a shot during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Los Angeles Kings’ Anze Kopitar (11) during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Los Angeles Kings’ Ben Hutton (15) defends on Colorado Avalanche’s Vladislav Kamenev (81) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Los Angeles Kings’ Michael Amadio (10) works for position against Colorado Avalanche’s Logan O’Connor (25) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Los Angeles Kings’ Alex Iafallo celebrates after scoring during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Los Angeles Kings’ Alex Iafallo (19) celebrates his goal with Dustin Brown (23) during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Los Angeles Kings’ Drew Doughty smiles during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

  • Colorado Avalanche’s Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (41) controls the puck in front of Los Angeles Kings’ Dustin Brown (23) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Monday, March 9, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

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LOS ANGELES — The Kings doubled their previous season-high win streak, defeating the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 for their sixth consecutive victory on Monday night at Staples Center.

The Kings earned five out of a possible six points in the season series against Colorado, which owns the Western Conference’s second-best record. They allowed only three goals in the three games.

“They’ve played real good against us. They’re a stingy defensive team,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “They play the right way, they’re well-coached, they’ve got some good veteran leaders and the young guys that they’ve got coming up work extremely hard.”

The Kings tethered themselves to an early lead, then checked tightly and relied on goalie Jonathan Quick to seal the deal. He made 21 saves, including some highlight-reel stops. That bested Colorado’s Pavel Francouz, who turned aside 32 of the Kings’ 35 shots.

Right wing Austin Wagner, rookie defenseman Mikey Anderson and left wing Alex Iafallo scored for the Kings, who are 7-1-1 in their past nine home games (five straight wins) and 9-2-1 in their past 12 games overall. Center Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare scored the only goal for Colorado, which lost for just the second time in its past 12 road games.

“I thought that we were doing a lot of things right these last five games and even before that. Everybody’s been ready to play, and that’s a big thing for our team right now,” Wagner said. “You know, this year hasn’t gone as planned as everybody expected, but at the end of the season here, we’re trying to make a push and everybody’s just trying to get some wins here and still climb the standings.”

Center Anze Kopitar and the Kings’ first line smothered the Avs’ formidable top trio, which included top scorer Nathan MacKinnon and searing hot captain Gabriel Landeskog, who was named one of the NHL’s Stars of the Week. They got something of a reprieve when MacKinnon exited the game after logging less than 12 minutes of ice time because of an unspecified lower-body injury. Bednar, whose team has been riddled by injuries, did not know the extent of the injury or when it happened.

“We counted on Kopi’s line to check what was left of their top line,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said.

Through 14 minutes of play, the teams had combined for a meager six shots, but the Kings opened the scoring with 5:38 left in the first period. Wagner zoomed down the left wing and left a drop pass for left wing Nikolai Prohorkin, who let a slap shot rip. The puck glanced off the shoulder of Francouz and then Wagner, who had circled behind the net, came out front to tap home the rebound.

“A lot of times throughout the year I think we played that same game, but maybe not had a bounce or a timely goal and didn’t get the reward. Now we’re starting to get it,” McLellan said.

A mere 63 seconds later, the Kings extended their lead on an even more fortuitous bounce.

An offensive-zone faceoff win by Gabriel Vilardi to Martin Frk preceded a decisive pass to Anderson. His shot along the ice hit the stick of Colorado defenseman Kevin Connauton and caromed into the net. It was Anderson’s first career NHL goal and made him the fifth Kings player 22 years old or younger to score this season, joining Wagner, forward Matt Luff, and centers Blake Lizotte and Gabriel Vilardi.

“It’s a cool moment, but more importantly, I’ve only been here five games now, but in the five games we’ve had, I felt like we’ve had strong team efforts overall,” Anderson said.

“To see somebody score their first, there’s a lot of joy in that,” McLellan said. “It’s contagious throughout the whole bench. I think everybody on our team now, if I’m correct, has a goal. And there’ll be more to come as more kids enter the lineup, but it’s a really exciting moment when that happens for the team as well as the individual.”

Just past the five-minute mark of the second period, left wing Trevor Moore jumped in passing lane at the blue line and darted in on a breakaway. Francouz gloved the puck just above his pad to keep the Kings’ lead at 2-0.

Colorado nearly scored on the power play a couple of minutes later when MacKinnon maneuvered through traffic at the left faceoff dot to set up a one-timer for Landeskog. His shot got past Quick, but it hit the intersection of the post and the crossbar. Landeskog entered the game on an eight-game point streak, during which he accumulated 13 points, including eight in his last three outings, but he was stifled by Kopitar throughout the night.

With 6:45 remaining in the middle frame, Avs right wing Valeri Nichushkin was hooked during a partial breakaway. Quick stoned him on the resulting penalty shot.

Quick lunged to make a glove save on defenseman Ian Cole when a broken play left him with a superb chance from point-blank range.

With the Avalanche looking tired in the second game of a back-to-back, the Kings carried a shutout of one of the league’s top five offenses into the second intermission, with a 2-0 edge and a staggering 27-12 shot advantage.

That lead was ephemeral as Colorado scored a fluky goal of its own when a scramble left Bellemare with the puck high in the zone. His low-flying wrist shot took a hop over Quick’s pad and skidded into the net to halve the Kings’ cushion.

“They deserved those goals in the beginning. Even if it was a lucky bounce, they worked for it,” Bellemare said. “We could have packed it in and felt sorry for ourselves, but we battled all the way to the end.”

Quick later snared a rising wrist shot from right wing Logan O’Connor and made a diving save on a shot by right wing Joonas Donskoi, part of a nearly flawless night in net.

“It’s always kind of a battle (between goalies). But it’s not tennis or chess; it depends on the team, too,” Francouz said. “It was fun to watch him, he played really well and he’s a great goalie.”

A wild scramble that saw Francouz drawn out of his net nearly resulted in a goal for the Kings, but defenseman Nikita Zadorov played goalie for a moment to keep the score 2-1.

On the next possession, Iafallo added an insurance goal as he weaved in on net and made a quick transition to lift a backhand over and past Francouz with 5:25 left in the game.

“That was a back-breaker, something that we needed because they had a little momentum,” McLellan said.

The Kings also fended off the 6-on-5 portion of the game with aplomb, allowing no dangerous chances as the Avs pushed forward desperately.

“We were facing five guys at all times. They were extremely careful to not give up a two-on-one or a(n odd-man) rush,” Bellemare said. “There’s teams that you feel like you’re always going to have a hard time against regardless of the lineup. Maybe this is one of those teams.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

👏 MIKEY ANDERSON WITH HIS FIRST CAREER GOAL 👏@miklovin8 | @LAKings | #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/8TLgYIWvHZ

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 10, 2020

“This is a pretty cool milestone and something I won’t forget”@miklovin8 shares his thoughts after scoring his first NHL goal@LAKings | #LAKingsLive pic.twitter.com/4oj6AimW4i

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 10, 2020

“Usually that’s a sign of a pretty good team when you can just repeat over and over again: good goaltending, good team play”

Coach Todd McLellan looks back on what he liked and didn’t like from tonight’s game@LAKings | #LAKingsLive pic.twitter.com/BJpdaDJfpe

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 10, 2020

🚨🚨 Austin Wagner gets the boys on the board 🚨🚨@LAKings | #PuckPickEm | #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/au1lJNI4Tc

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 10, 2020

“We don’t wanna stop at 6 games. We want to keep winning”

Austin Wagner chats with the media after the win@LAKings | #LAKingsLive pic.twitter.com/cPtqoN7iVR

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 10, 2020

WHAT A GOAL 🙌

Alex Iafallo makes it 3-1!@LAKings | #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/Gk8krN3ceq

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 10, 2020

“After winning 5 or 6 in a row you tend to get cute, and we just made sure that we had to keep it simple and keep playing the way we had in those previous 5”@dewyy8 reflects on tonight’s win – the 6th in a row for the @LAKings@lakingsinsider | #LAKingsLive pic.twitter.com/bYNq9loptc

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 10, 2020

Read more about Surging Kings ride first-period lead to 6th consecutive win This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed. SaddleBack Valley Shredding Service

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Anze Kopitar scores twice, Kings win in Vegas

LAS VEGAS — Anze Kopitar scored twice, rookie Calvin Petersen made 42 saves and the Los Angeles Kings beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 on Sunday night.

The Kings improved to 6-2-1 in their last nine games, a winning stretch that came on the heels of a 1-9-1 skid that spanned from Jan. 11 to Feb. 9.

Los Angeles, which is in last place in the Pacific Division, snapped Vegas’ franchise record-tying eight-game win streak. The Golden Knights hadn’t lost since a 4-0 defeat in Minnesota on Feb. 11.

Petersen, who improved to 2-0-0 against Vegas, was brilliant in stifling the Golden Knights’ normally potent offense that clearly was missing Mark Stone, who is week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Of his 42 stops, 19 came in the third period.

Trevor Lewis and Alex Iafallo also scored for the Kings.

Shea Theodore scored for Vegas, while Marc-Andre Fleury made 13 saves.

Kopitar opened the scoring when he was left all alone to the right of Fleury and took an extra second to find the right angle to go top shelf and make it a 1-0 game.

After William Carrier was called for cross-checking, the Kings’ power-play unit took advantage of the Golden Knights failing to clear the puck multiple times, as Kopitar used a backhand to go top shelf again and push Los Angeles’ lead to two goals.

Los Angeles made it 3-0 at 10:04 of the second period, when he used a nifty spin move around Vegas defenseman Nick Holden to beat Fleury far side over his glove.

Vegas got its first goal late in the second, when Max Pacioretty clanked a blistering slap shot off the post that rang as loud as any shot ever taken at T-Mobile Arena. Los Angeles’ Ben Hutton tried clearing the rebound, but Theodore intercepted the puck in the high slot and beat Petersen before he could recover. Theodore is one goal shy of the career-high 12 he had last year in 12 more games played.

After former King Alec Martinez was called for goaltender interference, LA once again victimized one of the worst home penalty kill units. After stopping Adrian Kempe’s slapper from the right circle, Fleury couldn’t control the rebound and Iafallo cleaned up the rebound to push Los Angeles’ lead back to three goals at 4-1.

While the Kings came in with the 24th-ranked power play, Vegas came in with the fourth-worst penalty kill on home ice.

Kings open a nine-game homestand vs. Toronto on Thursday.

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McDavid shines in return from injury, Oilers hold off Kings

LOS ANGELES — The Edmonton Oilers added one key player with the return of Connor McDavid on Sunday night after he missed six games with a quad injury.

Then they picked up another, trading for veteran defenseman Mike Green from Detroit.

McDavid gave Edmonton a boost with a goal and two assists in a 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings, then turned his attention to the Oilers’ addition on the blue line.

“It’s exciting. I’ve been on the other side where you’re losing friends to trade and all that, so it’s nice to be on the other side where you’re acquiring guys and trying to make a push,” McDavid said.

The Oilers traded forward Kyle Brodziak and a conditional draft pick in 2020 or 2021 to the Red Wings for Green. The deal for the 34-year-old, who has three goals and eight assists in 48 games this season, was announced during the third period.

Green brings experience to a position group for Edmonton that is currently missing two of its top defenders in Kris Russell, recovering from a concussion, and Oscar Klefbom, out with a shoulder injury.

“When you can bring in guys that are only going to help your team, help your depth, and we already know what we got in this locker room right now, just to be able to add to that and be a threat I think it’s fun,” Oilers forward Riley Sheahan said.

Leon Draisaitl scored on the power play, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and Edmonton moved ahead of idle Vancouver into second place in the Pacific Division. Mike Smith made 21 saves.

Anze Kopitar had a power-play goal, Dustin Brown also scored and Calvin Petersen made 27 saves for the Kings, who have lost three of four.

McDavid, who was injured against Nashville on Feb. 8, scored on an odd-man rush at 16:14 of the second period before Kopitar pulled the Kings within 3-1 at 18:39.

McDavid also found Draisaitl for the opening goal at 19:29 of the first period on a one-timer from the right circle and Josh Archibald for a shot into an empty net with 50 seconds remaining in the third period.

“Of course it’s great having him back,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “You see the plays he makes and he’s just so dangerous every time he touches the puck, and every team knows that. I mean, it’s no secret, and he still goes in and does it every night. For him to play like that in his first game back, it’s more than impressive.”

Though the Kings make it 3-2 49 seconds into the third period when Brown scored to the short glove side with a wrist shot from the right circle on an odd-man rush, Kopitar said the defensive breakdowns that preceded it were too much to overcome.

“It’s the 2-on-1s that we gave up, we can’t be that careless,” Kopitar said. “We’ve got to be a lot more responsible.”

Those mistakes allowed the Oilers to celebrate their third straight road win, the chance to get even better with the addition of Green and the possibility of more moves to come as general manager Ken Holland said he would be back on the phone before the trade deadline on Monday.

“I look at those players in that room, they’ve earned the right to keep pushing,” Oilers coach Dave Tippett said. “And Kenny’s added a piece for us that will help, but I give all the credit to the players. They’re the ones that have to come out and get the work done.

“They want to be a good team, they want to be a playoff team, they want to earn the right to be a playoff team, so to put ourselves in this position where we’re looking to try to get better down the stretch, that’s a positive sign for us.”

NOTES:

McDavid has three goals and six assists in the four-game season series against the Kings. … Nugent-Hopkins has three goals and two assists during a three-game point streak. … Jones had two assists for his first multipoint game this season. … Oilers F Kailer Yamamoto had an assist, his third in two games. … Kings D Ben Hutton did not play because of illness.

UP NEXT 

Oiler visit the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night.

Kings host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.

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Gabe Vilardi scores quickly in NHL debut as Kings edge Panthers

  • The Kings’ Gabriel Vilardi is congratulated as he returns to the bench after scoring his first NHL goal just 86 seconds into Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers at Staples Center. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Kings center Gabriel Vilardi, left, celebrates his goal with right wing Martin Frk, center, as Florida Panthers defenseman Anton Stralman skates away during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

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  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Gabriel Vilardi #42 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his first goal with Martin Frk #29 during the first period against the Florida Panthers at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Kings center Gabriel Vilardi celebrates his goal with teammates on the bench during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • The Kings’ Dustin Brown (23) skates against the Panthers’ Aaron Ekblad (5) and Sergei Bobrovsky (72) during Thursday’s game at Staples Center. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Frank Vatrano #77 of the Florida Panthers is hit as he skates around Derek Forbort #24 of the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his goal with Anze Kopitar #11, Dustin Brown #23, and Adrian Kempe #9 of the Los Angeles Kings during the first period against the Florida Panthers at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Jonathan Huberdeau #11 of the Florida Panthers stickhandles in front of Kurtis MacDermid #56 of the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his powerplay goal with Anze Kopitar #11 and Dustin Brown #23, to tie the game 2-2 with the Florida Panthers, during the first period at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers celebrates his goal with Noel Acciari #55 and Jonathan Huberdeau #11, to tie the game 1-1 with the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Aleksi Saarela #28 of the Florida Panthers chases after the puck with Kurtis MacDermid #56 of the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Kings center Gabriel Vilardi waits for a face-off during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Gabriel Vilardi #42 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his assist to Martin Frk #29, to take a 4-3 lead, behind Keith Yandle #3 of the Florida Panthers during the second period at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Kings right wing Martin Frk, center, celebrates his goal with center Gabriel Vilardi, right, as Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky sits in goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Gabriel Vilardi #42 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his assist to the goal of Martin Frk #29, to take a 4-3 lead over the Florida Panthers during the second period at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Martin Frk #29 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates with Gabriel Vilardi #42 after scoring a goal during the second period against the Florida Panthers at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Trevor Moore #12 of the Los Angeles Kings takes a check from Jonathan Huberdeau #11 of the Florida Panthers during the second period at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Vincent Trocheck #21 of the Florida Panthers goes after the puck between Tim Schaller #59 and Trevor Lewis #22 of the Los Angeles Kings during the second period at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Trevor Moore #12 of the Los Angeles Kings deflects a shot for a goal between Sergei Bobrovsky #72 and Josh Brown #2 of the Florida Panthers, for a 3-3 tie, during the second period at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, right, is scored on by Los Angeles Kings center Trevor Moore, center, as defenseman Josh Brown defends during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Adrian Kempe #9 of the Los Angeles Kings and Keith Yandle #3 of the Florida Panthers fight at the end of the second period at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Gabriel Vilardi #42 of the Los Angeles Kings stickhandles between Brett Connolly #10 and Aleksi Saarela #28 of the Florida Panthers during the second period at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Noel Acciari #55 of the Florida Panthers falls in front of Jonathan Quick #32 and Sean Walker #26 of the Los Angeles Kings, resulting in a penalty, during the first period at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings defends the goal from Frank Vatrano #77 of the Florida Panthers during the second period against the Florida Panthers at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings makes a blocker save during the first period against the Florida Panthers at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Frank Vatrano #77 of the Florida Panthers splits the defense of Trevor Lewis #22 and Trevor Moore #12 of the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Vincent Trocheck #21 of the Florida Panthers falls between Martin Frk #29 and Matt Roy #3 during the first period at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Ben Hutton #15 of the Los Angeles Kings scores a goal on Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Florida Panthers to take a 5-4 lead during the third period in a 5-4 Kings win at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Kings center Gabriel Vilardi moves the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Ben Hutton #15 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his goal with Alex Iafallo #19, Anze Kopitar #11 and Dustin Brown #23, to take a 5-4 lead over the Florida Panthers during the third period in a 5-4 Kings win at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings makes a save during the third period in a 5-4 win over the Florida Panthers at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Aleksander Barkov #16 and Jonathan Huberdeau #11 of the Florida Panthers crash into Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings during the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings won 5-4. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings defends the goal against Frank Vatrano #77 of the Florida Panthers during the third period at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. The Kings won 5-4.
    (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Kings left wing Austin Wagner, top, collides with Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Kings left wing Tim Schaller, left, tries to get a shot past Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Kings defenseman Ben Hutton, second from left, celebrates his goal with teammates on the bench during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. The Kings won 5-4. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Kings left wing Austin Wagner, top, collides with Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Kings center Trevor Moore, right, takes the puck as Florida Panthers center Frank Vatrano reaches in during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown, left, and Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov collide during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. The Kings won 5-4. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Gabriel Vilardi #42 of the Los Angeles Kings gets congratulated by teammates after a 5-4 win against the Florida Panthers at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Kings center Gabriel Vilardi, center, is congratulated by defenseman Ben Hutton after an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020, in Los Angeles. Vilardi scored a goal in the first period. The Kings won 5-4. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Gabriel Vilardi #42 of the Los Angeles Kings gives his stick to a fan after a 5-4 win against the Florida Panthers at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – FEBRUARY 20: Gabriel Vilardi #42 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his first star, scoring a goal in his first NHL game during a 5-4 win over the Florida Panthers at Staples Center on February 20, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES — Many Kings fans have been clamoring to see the team’s prospects up with the main club this season, and Thursday’s 5-4 victory over the Florida Panthers helped illustrate why.

Center Gabe Vilardi, the 11th overall pick in the 2017 draft, stole the show in his NHL debut, opening the scoring on the first shift of his career and setting up a go-ahead goal in the second period as the Kings opened a five-game homestand on a winning note.

“There’s no secret what’s going on here, they’re trying to get younger and hopefully I can be a part of that and help the team,” Vilardi said, following a week in which the Kings traded away veteran wing Tyler Toffoli and veteran defenseman Alec Martinez.

Defenseman Ben Hutton produced the game-winning goal. Veteran defenseman Drew Doughty also contributed a goal and an assist. Left wing Trevor Moore, a Feb. 5 trade acquisition, and right wing Martin Frk, a call-up from the minors, tallied for the Kings. Team captain Anze Kopitar added two assists.

Center Aleksander Barkov had two goals for Florida, left wing Jonathan Huberdeau turned in a four-point performance that included a goal, left wing Mike Hoffman scored a goal and defenseman Aaron Ekblad had two assists.

The game was hardly a goaltenders’ duel, as Jonathan Quick stopped 25 of 29 shots to outlast Sergei Bobrovsky, who came up with 35 out of 40 potential saves.

“Our guys need to have fun and the fans that come to the rink need to be entertained, and goals are entertaining,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said.

The Kings pulled ahead once more with 7:45 remaining in the game. Hutton started and then joined the rush, went to the net, shot once and then stuffed the puck home on a rebound for the game-winning goal.

Ekblad and Barkov called the Panthers’ defensive performance “unacceptable.” Florida coach Joel Quenneville, who coached the Chicago Blackhawks during the peak of their rivalry with the Kings, also credited the new-look Kings.

“They’ve got some speed, they work hard and they keep the game direct, straight ahead and simple. They definitely were the harder-working team tonight,” Quenneville said.

Florida tied the score with its second power-play goal of the night 36 seconds into the third period. A pass that was deflected into the air landed fortuitously in front of Hoffman, who hammered the puck home without hesitation.

The Kings got goals from two more fresh faces in the second period. Just past the midway point of the game, Moore tipped in Doughty’s shot from the blue line to knot the score at 3-all.

“In the second period, they had us in our end a lot. We didn’t get much offensive possession,” said Quenneville, who also pointed to his team’s low faceoff win percentage (36) and a lack of cohesion.

They took a lead with 1:18 left in the second stanza when Vilardi earned his first career assist. He received the puck behind the net and quickly turned it on his back for Frk, whose shot from the doorstep beat Bobrovsky to the far side.

“I did a quick peek there. I’ve played with Frkie a long time, he always finds the slot, those open spots,” Vilardi said.

Florida took its first lead 3:19 into the second period. During the waning moments of a power play, right wing Evgenii Dadonov made a seam pass to Huberdeeau, who dragged the puck on his forehand and smoked a wrist shot past Quick.

The Kings had drawn even with a power-play goal of their own 15:12 into the first period with some fluid movement of both players and the puck. Doughty, Kopitar and left wing Adrian Kempe dished the puck around with aplomb high in the zone before Doughty one-timed a slap shot that overpowered Bobrovsky.

The Panthers responded to their early deficit with two goals from Barkov that came 100 seconds apart in the first period. He finished from between the faceoff circles after a magnificent effort from Huberdeau, who stole the puck at the blue line and dangled his way to the net to break down the Kings’ scrambling defense. Barkov later crept into the middle, dragged the puck past defenseman Sean Walker and bested Quick with a laser of a wrist shot.

The Kings struck first, 1:26 into the game. Vilardi came off the bench as the Kings collected a turnover near center ice. He received a drop pass near the blue line, skated forward and let fly with a shot that got above the pad of Bobrovsky, glanced off his body and found the back of the net for the fastest rookie debut goal in Kings history.

The celebration, just 10 seconds after Vilardi came on the ice, was a youthful affair, as Frk, 26, was the elder statesman among the five skaters who embraced.

“Before you know it, it was on his tape, it was in the net and everyone was happy,” McLellan said.

Were his two-point debut and his goal on his first shift a dream scenario for Vilardi?

“My dream is to win the Stanley Cup,” Vilardi said. “But this was one of my dreams, for sure.”

“It set in right when I got the call – it’s very exciting obviously for not only me but my family”@Gabe_Vilardi13 chats with @lakingsinsider after his storybook NHL debut with his family in the stands@LAKings | #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/VJjRhbrROV

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) February 21, 2020

🚨🚨 THAT’S the way to make an entrance 🚨🚨@Gabe_Vilardi13 scores his first NHL goal on his first shot… in his NHL debut!@LAKings | #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/p0YtcuXhnU

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) February 21, 2020

“It affected the bench – the enthusiasm was contagious… Good spark, we needed it, and great for the kid. I’m so happy for him”

Coach Todd McLellan reflects on @Gabe_Vilardi13’s goal and tonight’s win@LAKings | #LAKingsLive pic.twitter.com/wjAd51yVrV

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) February 21, 2020

“I scored the goal today but I can tell you there’s a lot of things that I want to work on”@t_moore8 looks to keep improving to cement himself on the @LAKings @lakingsinsider | #LAKingsLive pic.twitter.com/BALLzjbUIv

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) February 21, 2020

Wait. Shoot. Moore. SCORE 🔥

Trevor Moore with a deflection off of @dewyy8‘s wrister @LAKings | #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/smCChWijPO

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) February 21, 2020

Up high, off the post, in behind 👏👏@Frky91 with an assist from @Gabe_Vilardi13 @LAKings | @JimFox19 | #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/rSaa9nDCxG

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) February 21, 2020

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Travis Konecny leads Flyers past Kings

PHILADELPHIA — After a lackluster home effort the last time out, Flyers coach Alain Vigneault shifted his top line and it paid huge dividends.

Travis Konecny scored a pair of goals and James van Riemsdyk added a goal and two assists to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.

Joel Farabee also scored and Brian Elliott made 34 saves for the Flyers, who improved to 16-4-4 at home. Philadelphia is right on the playoff cut line with 33 games remaining.

Claude Giroux, who centered the line with Konecny and van Riemsdyk, had a pair of assists.

“I was looking for something else,” Vigneault said after the Flyers’ 4-1 home defeat to Montreal on Thursday. “Putting (Giroux) back in the middle as an option we had and it worked out tonight.”

Giroux previously was a winger on the top line before taking Kevin Hayes’ place in the middle, with Hayes moving to that spot on the third line and van Riemsdyk coming up to the No. 1 unit.

“Yeah they’re good players,” Giroux said. “It’s fun to play with them. They both know how to score goals. I know it’s only one game, but you can see we have chemistry. We need to build off this.”

Konecny notched his second of the game and 17th of the season early in the second period when he fired a hard wrist shot from the front of the crease past Jack Campbell’s glove side. Van Riemsdyk put a perfect pass on Konecny’s stick from behind the net.

Earlier, Konecny put the Flyers on the board 3:48 into the contest when he finished a 2-on-1 with a one-timer from the slot after being set up nicely by van Riemsdyk.

“It felt good,” Konecny said. “It’s nice when you get some opportunities early in the game. It kind of gets your feet going. Our line was moving pretty good tonight.”

Elliott, the Flyers’ backup, is playing after No. 1 netminder Carter Hart was injured in practice Tuesday. Hart missed his third game and is expected to be out for two to three weeks with an abdominal injury. Elliott said the Flyers played a more complete game overall than Thursday.

“Blocking shots and allowing me to see pucks, that was a big difference,” he said. “It allows you to swallow up some of the rebounds that normally would be there, regroup and win the next faceoff. We did a good job of that and we buried our chances. Guys had some hot sticks tonight.”

Dustin Brown scored for Los Angeles, which enters a much-needed 10-day break after losing its fourth in a row and seventh in eight games. The Kings entered in the cellar in the Western Conference and tied for the third-fewest points in the league with 41. They ended a five-game road trip 1-3-1.

“We’ve played some really good teams and we’re learning how to be a really good team,” Brown said. “We have to take lessons from every game. It’s frustrating, but it’s important we figure out how to get better.”

The Flyers went ahead 3-0 with a pair of second-period tallies.

In addition to Konecny’s goal, Farabee recorded his fifth of the season, getting some good fortune when Matt Niskanen’s slap shot from the point deflected off his skate and past Campbell for a power-play goal with 7:52 left in the period.

Philadelphia also had a goal disallowed in the period when officials ruled that van Riemsdyk interfered with Campbell before Sean Couturier’s shot crossed the goal line. The officials’ call was upheld after a coach’s challenge.

The teams traded goals in the third period, with van Riemsdyk scoring on a deflection with 11:41 remaining. It was van Riemsdyk’s first goal in 13 games and second three-point game of the season.

Three minutes earlier, Brown put the Kings on the board by going high over Elliott’s blocker side after beating Niskanen down the wing. Brown, who has spent his entire career with the Kings, now has scored against every team in the NHL.

The Kings dropped to 0-19-1 when trailing after the first period, remaining the only team in the NHL not to have come back from a first-period deficit.

Philadelphia was playing its seventh game in 12 days. The Flyers will host the Penguins on Tuesday before a nine-day break.

NOTES: Flyers D Justin Braun (lower body) returned after missing six straight contests. … Los Angeles C Blake Lizotte (lower body) sat for the fifth consecutive game. … The teams split the two-game season series. Los Angeles won at home 5-3 on Dec. 31. Elliott was pulled after the first period in that contest after allowing four goals on 15 shots.

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Last-place Kings start fast, stun Golden Knights

  • Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jack Campbell (36) blocks a shot by the Vegas Golden Knights during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • Los Angeles Kings left wing Austin Wagner (51) celebrates after defenseman Alec Martinez, left, scored against the Vegas Golden Knights during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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  • Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) skates upice against Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Stastny (26) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • The Kings’ Ben Hutton, left, and Michael Amadio, center, celebrate after Adrian Kempe scored with 1.7 seconds left in the first period to give the Kings a 4-0 lead on the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night in Las Vegas. The Kings won 5-2. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • Los Angeles Kings defenseman Ben Hutton (15) celebrates after scoring against the Vegas Golden Knights during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Malcolm Subban (30) knocks the puck away against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jack Campbell (36) blocks a shot by the Vegas Golden Knights during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jack Campbell (36) throws his stick to try to block a goal by Vegas Golden Knights left wing Max Pacioretty (67) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) celebrates after left wing Max Pacioretty scored against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • Vegas Golden Knights right wing Alex Tuch (89) checks Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt, right, knocks the puck out of the air in front of Los Angeles Kings left wing Alex Iafallo during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) vies for the puck with Vegas Golden Knights right wing Alex Tuch (89) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Stastny (26) vies for the puck with Los Angeles Kings center Adrian Kempe (9) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

  • Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore (27) skates around Los Angeles Kings left wing Austin Wagner (51) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 9, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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LAS VEGAS — It doesn’t take much to get Kings goaltender Jack Campbell fired up to play inside T-Mobile Arena.

“You don’t have to get amped – you’re in Vegas. It’s showtime,” he said.

Campbell celebrated his 28th birthday by stopping 43 of the 45 shots he faced, Adrian Kempe scored two goals and the struggling Kings surprised the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2 on Thursday night.

“It’s pretty fun to play here and be in this city and the fans they have and team they have,” said Campbell, whose first career win was also in Vegas, in 2018. “You don’t have to try to psyche yourself up, it’s just such a fun place to play.”

The Kings, who entered the game in last place in the Western Conference, used four first-period goals to set the tone before Campbell held off the Pacific Division co-leading Golden Knights the rest of the way.

“He, for some reason, plays well here,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said of Campbell. “And to come out of this building with a win, you’re probably saying your goaltender played well because that’s a quality team over there.”

The Golden Knights outshot the Kings 36-5 over the last two periods but were unable to overcome the four-goal deficit.

It was the seventh time in 10 games the Golden Knights allowed at least four goals in a game, and fifth straight game Vegas allowed its guest to score the first goal of the game. It was also the third straight game in which the Golden Knights’ opponent scored the first three goals of the game.

Alec Martinez, Ben Hutton and Tyler Toffoli also scored for the Kings.

“You can’t say enough about our start,” said Campbell, who improved to 2-1-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average lifetime against Vegas. “When we score first, it’s amazing how well we can play. I know they made a big push in the second period, but we showed a lot of character coming back in the third. It’s just a big win.”

The Kings’ victory, coupled with the Ducks’ loss to Dallas, allowed the Kings to leapfrog the Ducks out of the Western Conference cellar.

Since opening the season 11-18-2 – third-worst in the NHL with 24 points – the Kings are 7-6-2 with 16 points, tied for 10th-best in the league.

“When we focus having a good start, it’s amazing how well you can play,” Campbell said. “Some games have gotten away from us early, especially on the road early in the season. We’ve kind of cleared that up as of late. We’ve turned the corner there, but to be a really good team in this league you gotta make sure you’re bringing that every night.”

Reilly Smith and Max Pacioretty scored for Vegas. Malcolm Subban made 18 saves and dropped to 6-3-1 in his last 10.

Martinez started the first-period scoring barrage for the Kings when he gathered a failed clearing try off the boards by Vegas defenseman Deryk Engelland and sent a one-timer past Subban from the point. Hutton extended the lead less than two minutes later. He collected a pass from Toffoli and fired a slap shot a few feet in front of Martinez’s goal, making it 2-0.

Toffoli got in on the action when he scooped up the puck off a faceoff and fired a wrist shot past Subban’s glove. Moments later it was Kempe burying a lingering rebound in the crease with 1.7 seconds left in the period.

The Kings’ four first-period goals tied for the most goals scored in one period against Vegas this season, matching Philadelphia, which did it on Oct. 21. Coincidentally, it marked the second time this season the Kings netted four goals in a period, which they also did on New Year’s Eve against Philadelphia.

“Same old story isn’t it? No excuse, we can’t be ready,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “We were down 3, 4-0 in the game. The first period was awful. It’s embarrassing.”

The Golden Knights clawed their way back into it, cutting the lead in half with two second-period goals, but it wasn’t enough with Campbell playing outstanding in net.

Kempe added his second goal of the game, and 10th of the season, with eight seconds left.

NOTES

Kings center Kopitar leads in assists and points against Vegas with eight assists and 12 points in 12 career games. … Kings defenseman Drew Doughty is two games away from playing in the 900th of his career. … Vegas left wing Jonathan Marchessault missed his third straight game and remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

UP NEXT

The Kings visit Carolina on Saturday.

“We had to put our foot on the gas again in the 3rd and I think we did a pretty good job with that” @adriankempe on how the @LAKings recovered after the pushback in the 2nd@CarrlynBathe | #LAKingsLive pic.twitter.com/w9ONBVVdoa

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 10, 2020

“I just think we have great leaders – so many guys in the room that got the boys ready for the 3rd – and ultimately came away with 2 big points”

The @LAKings take the W – a sweet birthday gift for Jack Campbell 🥳@CarrlynBathe | #LAKingsLive pic.twitter.com/LPwx1iRdM4

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 10, 2020

A ROCKET from @amartinez_27 – his first of the season 🚀@LAKings | #GoKingsGo | #PuckPickEm pic.twitter.com/PtScCBATi4

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 10, 2020

We see you @tytoff16 👀@LAKings | #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/AfOcqcu21r

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 10, 2020

Absolute. CHAOS. 🔥🔥@adriankempe makes it 4-0 in the first@LAKings | #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/7TOVCUIEWX

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 10, 2020

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Pettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat Kings

  • Vancouver Canucks’ Quinn Hughes (43) and goalie Jacob Markstrom (25), of Sweden, stop Los Angeles Kings’ Austin Wagner (51) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

  • Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom, of Sweden, makes a save against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

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  • Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson, right, of Sweden, reaches to catch the puck in front of Los Angeles Kings’ Blake Lizotte during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

  • Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson (40), of Sweden, celebrates his goal with teammate Brock Boeser (6), next to Los Angeles Kings’ Drew Doughty (8) and Jeff Carter (77) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

  • Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom, of Sweden, makes a save against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

  • Vancouver Canucks’ Elias Pettersson (40), of Sweden, celebrates his goal with teammate Brock Boeser (6), next to Los Angeles Kings’ Drew Doughty (8) and Jeff Carter (77) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

  • Los Angeles Kings’ Tyler Toffoli, left, scores against Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom, right, of Sweden, as Kings’ Anze Kopitar (11), of Slovenia, jumps to screen him during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 28, 2019, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Jacob Markstrom shrugged off a career-high save performance.

Elias Pettersson scored his fourth game-winning goal of the season and Markstrom made 49 saves as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Saturday night.

“I feel like if you look at it again, they throw a lot of pucks at net,” Markstrom said. “There were some rebounds where they got a couple of whacks after it afterwards where maybe I could have held the first puck. When I get the win, it’s way easier to go through video afterward.”

Starting his ninth-straight game since Dec. 10, Markstrom improved his record over that span to 5-4-0 as he earned his 100th career NHL win. His previous high was 47 saves in a 2-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Mar. 22, 2016.

“He stood on his head again today,” Pettersson said of Markstrom. “We didn’t have our best game. We made a lot of turnovers. That’s why you have a good goalie, and he got us the win.”

Jake Virtanen also scored his 11th goal of the season, and Tyler Motte had his second for Vancouver (20-15-4).

Anze Kopitar and Tyler Toffoli scored for Los Angeles (16-21-4), which was playing its second game in as many nights following a 3-2 overtime win in San Jose.

Jonathan Quick made 23 saves for the Kings.

“The puck wasn’t our friend tonight, that’s for sure,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “We fought the puck tonight.

“I like how our guys found a way. Our goalie gave us a hell of a game and that’s a team that shoots the puck a lot. They go to the net. For being off, we had to get into some physical battles, which is also hard. To come out of this game with two points is big for our group.”

The Kings were 0 for 3 on the power play, while the Canucks were 0 for 1. It was the first time in six games that Vancouver failed to score with the man advantage.

In their first game action after a four-day holiday break, the Canucks looked sluggish off the opening faceoff. Markstrom kept the game scoreless as the Kings recorded the first nine shots of the game.

Virtanen got Vancouver on the board with 9:38 left in the first. He grabbed a big rebound off his own shot near the right boards and fired the puck high over an outstretched Quick.

Motte doubled Vancouver’s lead with 28 seconds left in the opening frame, following up a Pettersson rush and rifling a snap shot to the far side, over Quick’s glove.

The Kings continued to pressure in the second period, with Markstrom’s biggest save coming off a Toffoli breakaway. On the 25th Los Angeles shot of the game, with 8:08 left in the second period, Kopitar got his team on the scoreboard. He poked a loose puck between the post and Markstrom’s outstretched right foot for his team-leading 15th of the year.

Shots after two periods were 30-17 for Los Angeles.

The Kings tied the game 2-2 at the 6:46 mark of the third period, when Toffoli found a loose puck just outside the Vancouver crease.

It took Vancouver just 19 seconds to reply, with J.T. Miller feeding Pettersson off the rush for his 18th goal of the year.

“We’ve talked a lot in here about your best players scoring when you need them,” said Green. “We needed one tonight, and they got it for us.”

That was enough, as Markstrom stopped 20 of 21 shots in the third.

The Canucks are 3-0-0 against the Kings this season and finished their holiday homestand with a 4-1-0 record. Saturday’s win gives Vancouver 44 points, tying them with the Edmonton Oilers for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The win is Vancouver’s fourth in a row, its second-such streak of the season.

NOTES: Canadian soccer star Alphonso Davis cranked up the siren at Rogers Arena to start the game; New York Yankees pitcher James Paxton, from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, was also on hand. … The Canucks wore their commemorative 50th anniversary ‘stick in rink’ jerseys. … Canucks defenseman Jordie Benn was a healthy scratch for the second-straight game, while Oscar Fantenberg dressed for his 100th career NHL game. … The Kings are 4-2-2 in their last eight road games.

UP NEXT

Kings: Host Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

Canucks: At Calgary Flames on Sunday.

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Alexander: Kings edge Ducks in latest installment of Freeway Futures Game

ANAHEIM — Someday, the Ducks and Kings will be good again, and their games against each other will have playoff implications like the good old days. It could be sooner, but it more likely will be later.

In the meantime, SoCal’s NHL rivalry is interesting in more subtle ways, as long as the observer understands the greater ambitions for these franchises. Success is measured in little things, in the ways the young players both sides possess stick to their systems, reduce mistakes and turn them into positive moments.

Thursday night it was the Kings’ turn to celebrate on the ice, their 2-1 victory ending an 11-game road losing streak. It included goals from veteran Jeff Carter and youngster Matt Luff, a 36-save performance from Jonathan Quick that brought back visions of a time when elite goaltending made the Kings an elite team, and an old-school, toe-to-toe heavyweight brawl between former teammates, the Kings’ Kurtis MacDermid and the Ducks’ Nic Deslauriers.

The latter, which took place midway through the second period and went to MacDermid on what This Space would consider a split decision, livened things up considerably. The back story was that the two were roommates in the Kings’ development camp years ago, and from the way they comported themselves during the fight and afterward, the mutual respect was evident.

pic.twitter.com/LWgm2XSRE3

— Eric (@Kingsgifs) December 13, 2019

MacDermid, a rugged 6-foot-5, 233-pound defenseman who was signed as an undrafted free agent, is an example of the type of player who, developed successfully, can be a mainstay of this rivalry in the future. He’s played the bulk of the last four seasons in Ontario, with 34 games with the Kings in 2017-18 and 11 last season, and he is a minus-3 in 18 games with the Kings this year.

But there is significant progress there.

“If we had a category … for most improved, in my opinion, he would get first, second and third place,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “He’s really come a long way. I know that Yawns (Trent Yawney), our back end coach, has a tremendous amount of confidence in him, and I think he feels that. And his teammates love having him in the lineup. So he works at his game and he deserves the ice time he’s getting. If that progression continues, we’ve got a pretty darn good player.”

How much did McClellan know about MacDermid before he took the job?

“Dermie? You know, those type of players, you know a little bit about,” he said. “They carry reputations. I didn’t know that he was as effective a player as he was. And he just continues to show us night after night that he’s very capable of playing.”

MacDermid, 25, is an example of what the Kings are developing. Luff, who knocked a loose puck past John Gibson for the Kings’ first goal, is another. The 22-year-old was sent back to Ontario for a spell last month, has been in the lineup off and on since, and is searching for that comfort zone that will enable him to play on instinct.

“I’ve got a good leadership core here,” he said, referring to forwards Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Tyler Toffoli. “I mean, those guys talk to me and make sure I understand that there is time and I don’t have to rush a play.

“There’s always a point where, when you’ve played enough games, you’re (familiar with) the system, where you should be and shouldn’t be when the puck’s on different sides of the ice. And I think I’ve settled in more recently, versus when I was first up here. So now it’s kind of just going with the flow of the game and not thinking, just going with what I know is going to happen and just using that to my advantage.”

The progress from a team standpoint is going from not getting blown out to being close to actually finishing plays and winning games. It sounds easier than it is.

Drew Doughty knows it’s hard to rush the process, but he senses that the Kings’ young guys are getting it. Or at least starting to.

“It’s different nowadays,” he said. “Back when I was a young guy it was all about making good defensive plays. And that’s kind of what you were (evaluated) on. Now it’s about creating plays, and getting up there and having lots of shots on net and stuff like that. They all have that naturally, (and) we just have to kind of help them a little bit with the D zone.

“Early in the season, we were giving up too many goals and then we were getting dominated. But now these young guys are learning how to play defense and how to do the right things in our own zone. And that’s why we’re playing better.”

When he was a young guy? This is his 12th NHL season, at age 30. If that makes you, the fan, feel old, you aren’t alone.

“That’s a pretty long time ago,” he said. “But yeah, I still got lots of time left in me.”

As previously noted, the Kings and Ducks are in basically the same predicament. But the Ducks have been a lot more aggressive in sending players back and forth between Anaheim and their AHL team in San Diego than the Kings have in shuffling players between the L.A. and Ontario rosters.

Ducks coach Dallas Eakins says he sees progress, but nights like Thursday – when his guys seemed to do everything but finish at the net – are yet another reminder of how hard this game is.

“We’re going to be sticking with the plan,” he said. “We’ve got some very good young players who are doing their best to get better every day, and we’re just hoping these reps they’re getting and the reps they’re getting in San Diego are going to turn out good for them.

“Young players are going to have up and down nights. Our veteran guys, if you graph them out, it’s a very even line graph. Younger guys kind of go up and down. But overall, I think our guys are doing well.”

The best way to be a Ducks or a Kings fan these days? Don’t focus on the standings for a while. Think of the future.


The Kings’ Matt Luff, left, celebrates with teammate Michael Amadio after scoring a first-period goal during their 2-1 victory over the rival Ducks on Thursday night at Honda Center. One of several young players on the Kings’ roster, the 22-year-old Luff was sent back to the team’s AHL affiliate in Ontario for a spell last month, has been in the lineup off and on since, and is searching for the comfort zone that will enable him to play on instinct. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Whicker: Capitals’ John Carlson skates past Kings on the way to history

LOS ANGELES — The Kings have not yet reached the depths of the old Clippers, from their Sports Arena days, when they tried to entice fans by promoting the visiting stars.

On Wednesday night the Kings might have touted the arrival of John Carlson.

Carlson is not the most famous player on the Washington Capitals, but he is poised to make the type of history usually associated with Alex Ovechkin.

He scored the Caps’ first two goals in a 3-1 victory, and that gave him 11 goals and 42 points in 30 games.

That extrapolates to a 118-point pace. No defenseman has scored 100 points since the Rangers’ Brian Leetch got 102 in the 1991-92 season.

“That’s why he’s Johnny Norris,” T.J. Oshie said. “That’s really all you need to say. He’s one of our leaders. The points are amazing, but he’s also a solid rock back there defensively.”

Carlson has not finished higher than third in the Norris Trophy balloting, given to the best all-around defenseman. It usually winds up in the hands of a high scorer, and Carlson has led the NHL’s defenseman in scoring before, but he only needed 68 points to do so in 2018. He came into Wednesday night’s game 12 points ahead of Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton.

In 2004, the last year of Old Hockey, Sergei Gonchar of Washington led the league’s D-men with 58 points. After a year-long lockout, the NHL sped up the game with new rules, and Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit led with 80 points in 2006.

But even last season there were only four defensemen with 70 or more. Carlson had 70, 18 fewer than league leader Brent Burns.

“Scoring is up across the board,” Carlson said. “There’s a lot more unpredictability, and guys are learning new ways to score. It’s the way the league is right now.”

Carlson found two ways to score in this one, both in the first period. He separated Trevor Lewis from the puck at his own blue line and sped down the right side.

“I thought I heard somebody yell 2-on-1, but when I looked up it wasn’t there,” he said. So he shot it at, and then past, Jonathan Quick.

On the second goal, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty got involved in a puck scrum along the boards and partner Joakim Ryan shaded over to help. Oshie freed the puck and swung it to the right side, to find Carlson with nearly half the zone to work with. Carlson skated in on Quick, got behind him and caromed the puck off his back for the 2-0 lead.

“There has to be a stronger belief system at the beginning of games,” said Kings coach Todd McLellan, whose team is now 11-16-2. “The start seems to be a bit of an issue. We got down two (goals) and it seemed like we said, OK, we’ve got nothing to lose, and then we became a better team. We’re struggling to score goals right now.”

The Kings had abundant chances but their power play remained arthritic. They got four shots on goal in six minutes of man-advantage time and scored none.

But early in the third period, Washington goalie Alex Samsonov indecisively played the puck behind his net. Kings’ rookie Blake Lizotte, who had just charged off the bench, ambushed Samsonov, making it 2-1.

With Quick on the bench, Dustin Brown got a pass from Alex Iafallo in front of Samsonov but couldn’t make his backhand shot work. Tom Wilson quickly turned it into an empty-net goal.

Washington, which won the Stanley Cup two years ago but was eliminated by Carolina in the first round last season, now has a 21-4-5 record and, with Carlson, has five players who have scored 10 or more goals. The Kings only have Anze Kopitar, with 10.

The Capitals won at San Jose on Tuesday night without a point from Ovechkin, and he didn’t score here either, which is not a comforting image for the rest of the Eastern Conference.

Carlson has steadily grown into NHL royalty, but the hockey world has known him for years. He scored an overtime goal for the U.S. team that beat Canada for the World Juniors championship in Saskatoon, nine years ago. A few months ago he got the game-winner as the Hershey Bears won the Calder Cup, the championship of the American Hockey League.

Eight of the Kings’ next nine games are on the road before a Dec. 23 match at Staples Center with the St. Louis Blues, who won the Stanley Cup in June. Clear your calendar; center Ryan O’Reilly and goalie Jordan Binnington might be worth a look.

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