After two losses, champion Kings top Jets for first win of season
Kings center Jeff Carter (left) celebrates with center Tyler Toffoli after scoring against the Jets.
Kelvin Kuo / USA TODAY Sports
The banners are affixed to the rafters, and the Stanley Cup has been put away. The Los Angeles Kings finally got back to the everyday business of winning hockey with a boost from the line with the catchiest nickname from last season's championship run.
Martin Jones made 29 saves for the Kings, who took a four-goal lead in the second period and cruised to their first win in three games. Los Angeles got a dominant game from That 70s Line -- the jersey-number-inspired name for Carter's line with youngsters Toffoli and Pearson.
"Right from camp, it kind of clicked for us," said Pearson, who still is technically a rookie despite his Stanley Cup ring. "Chemistry is such a big thing in this league, and I'm just trying to do my part. Winning the first (title) makes you hungry for another one. We started a little slow this season, but this one is progress."
Anze Kopitar also scored and Drew Doughty had two assists for the Kings, who began a six-game homestand with the same type of physical, skilled hockey that led to a championship four months ago.
The Kings were shut out by San Jose in their banner-raising home opener last Wednesday, and they blew an early two-goal lead before losing in overtime at Arizona on Saturday night.
"We're just playing a lot more connected then we did in the first two games," Kopitar said. "And we didn't give up much."
Bryan Little scored for Winnipeg, which lost two of three on its season-opening road trip, scoring just one goal in back-to-back weekend losses in California.
Michael Hutchinson stopped 10 of 13 shots before getting pulled from his first start of the season and his fourth career NHL appearance. Ondrej Pavelec finished up the Jets' second loss in two appearances at Staples Center.
"We knew they were going to come hard after dropping their first two games, and they did," Hutchinson said. "I know the third goal wasn't the best, and it came at a crucial point in the game."
Blake Wheeler was still steamed about a hit by Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr on young Jets forward Mark Scheifele late in the second period. Wheeler, a U.S. Olympian and the Jets' leading scorer last season, immediately instigated a fight with Regehr, earning 17 minutes in penalties.
"I felt like it was knee on knee," Wheeler said. "And I feel like if it went the other way, it would have been the same (reaction), so no, I don't think I overreacted."
Wheeler has two fights in the Jets' first three games, and his penalties took him off the ice for much of the third period. Coach Paul Maurice doesn't mind.
"He didn't like the hit," Maurice said. "Nobody did. And you want that reaction, rather than screaming at the ref. I like the way (Wheeler) plays, how hard he competes, and it's a good example for our team."
After Toffoli opened the scoring with a rebound goal, Kopitar got his first point of the season midway through the first period with a goal set up by Marian Gaborik, who also recorded his first point. Doughty assisted on both goals for his first multipoint game of the season after managing just four last year.
Hutchinson couldn't squeeze a stoppable shot by Pearson early in the second period, and Maurice sent Pavelec over the boards.
Shortly after Carter scored on Toffoli's rebound late in the second, Little converted Michael Frolik's rebound for his third goal in three games.
Jones punctuated his sharp outing with a point-blank save on an undefended Andrew Ladd early in the third period.
NOTES: Los Angeles D Jake Muzzin still hasn't played this season because of an undisclosed injury, but says he is close. Brayden McNabb played his third straight game in Muzzin's place. ... Winnipeg opens a five-game homestand Thursday against Nashville. ... Jets F Evander Kane missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury that will keep him out for two weeks.