To beat the defending Stanley Cup champions in their building, the Pittsburgh Penguins knew they needed to buckle down defensively, weather a big shots disparity and play for a game-changing goal.
In an instant deep in overtime, Patric Hornqvist provided it.
Hornqvist scored on a Kings turnover in the slot 1:44 into overtime, and the Penguins beat Los Angeles 1-0 on Saturday night for their sixth victory in seven games.
Hornqvist pounced when Jeff Carter made a curious clearing pass from the corner to Tyler Toffoli in front of the Los Angeles net. Toffoli bobbled the puck to Hornqvist, who ended it with his 22nd goal.
"We’ve been playing really good, and today was a grind," Hornqvist said. "We knew it was going to be that way, and everybody bought in and stuck with it. That was the first OT goal for me, so it was great."
Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves in his ninth shutout of the season for the Penguins, who completed a Southern California sweep after beating NHL-leading Anaheim on Friday night with two goals from Hornqvist.
"Now we know we can play against anyone, and we have to build on that," Hornqvist said.
The Kings outshot the Penguins 31-16 in 60 minutes of tense regulation hockey, but got nothing past Fleury, who said the shot disparity was "something we expected" from the high-volume Kings.
"They came hard at us, but we stayed patient and nobody panicked," Fleury said. "We had a few good chances, and it was nice to get that goal at the end."
Jonathan Quick stopped 17 shots for the Kings, who had won 10 of their previous 13 games. Despite a pronounced shot advantage for the Kings, Pittsburgh shut out the champs in both of their meetings this season, including a 3-0 win back in October in which Los Angeles outshot Pittsburgh 36-23.
"We had a lot of chances, a lot of pucks to the net," defenseman Jake Muzzin said. "We were good on the rush, and our breakouts were very good. We played a lot of the game in their zone. One lucky bounce, quick transition, bing bang, and then a shot on net. That was it."
Los Angeles lost a 1-0 game for the third time this season, including twice in its last three home games. Although the Kings grabbed a point, they’re still one point behind Calgary for third place in the Pacific Division.
"It was just a bad bounce," Kings defenseman Matt Greene said. "We played a good game tonight, but we have to find a way to get it done and find a way to get on the board."
Although Los Angeles outshot the Penguins 22-11 in the first two periods, Pittsburgh had most of the high-quality scoring chances. Captain Sidney Crosby put a shot off the crossbar after a mind-boggling move to get past Drew Doughty, his Canadian Olympic teammate.
"They always come out pretty hard, here especially," Crosby said. "And them knowing that we played last night, we expected them to really try to be physical early. They were, but we weathered the storm."
Muzzin put a long shot into Fleury’s net with 15 minutes left in regulation, but the goal was immediately waved off because Kings captain Dustin Brown made contact with the goalie in the crease.
"I knew he pushed me off," Fleury said. "You always hope the ref sees it, and he did. It was a good call by him."
Los Angeles limited the Penguins to one shot in the first 14 1/2 minutes of the third period, but neither team had a golden chance late.
NOTES: Just six of the Kings’ final 17 games are at home. Los Angeles was awful away from Staples Center this season before last month’s eight-game winning streak. The Kings are still just 10-14-6 on the road. … Steve Downie returned to Pittsburgh’s lineup, and Craig Adams was a healthy scratch. Their roles were reversed Friday in Anaheim. … The Kings wore their gold-and-purple throwback jerseys.