Considering their uneven performance last weekend in the first game of a five-game road trip, the Kings’ 4-2 win Tuesday night over the Columbus Blue Jackets came as a welcome relief.
They scored a rare power-play goal, killed a penalty in the third period with brilliant defense and got three assists from Justin Williams. And when things got a bit rough in the second period, they proved a willingness to tangle.
After their 7-4 defeat to the Ducks on Saturday night, this is exactly what the Kings needed.
“It’s nice to start out with a win and try to build momentum off of that,” said center Mike Richards, who scored his first goal of the season. “It’s a time where we have to put together a string of wins and more or less build confidence. Being on the road, you can always be together and start that, and starting with a win helps.”
The Kings’ trip actually began in Anaheim, but it didn’t involve a plane trip and was a game they preferred to forget. This performance was much better despite a slow start.
They lost a first-period goal when Anze Kopitar was called for incidental interference on a goal he appeared to deflect into the net past Steve Mason. But officials determined that Kopitar made just enough contact with Mason to cancel the goal.
Columbus then took a 1-0 lead on Derek MacKenzie’s goal in the first before the Kings scored three times in the second and out-shot the Jackets 17-2.
After Kopitar’s back-hander 32 seconds into the period tied the game, Jeff Carter flipped in a shot from behind the net on the power play to give the Kings their first lead. The puck caromed off the skate of Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin and past Mason. The Kings entered the game ranked 24th on the power play.
Columbus tied the game at 2-2 on Derrick Broussard goal off a pass from Tim Erixon, but Slava Voynov put the Kings in front again with his goal at 10:26 of the second.
Richards mixed it up with Columbus forward Brandon Dubinsky after Dubinsky checked Rob Scuderi hard into the boards midway through the second period. Dubinsky got 20 minutes for boarding and a game misconduct, and Richards was sent off for 19 minutes for fighting.
“It was just one of those hockey plays,” Richards told FOX Sports West. “He would do the same for me. I saw it, and I was the closest guy. Everybody was trying to get over there.”
Richards gave his team a two-goal cushion on a tap-in off Tyutin’s skate near the crease. Before that, the Kings played well on defense to kill a penalty that threatened to deadlock the game again, holding the Jackets to one shot over four minutes after Carter was called for a double-minor.
The Kings continue their trip Thursday night in Nashville, then make stops at Detroit and St. Louis next week before returning home. But it’s only a one-game homestand; they’re playing eight of nine games away from Staples Center.
Winning Tuesday against Columbus was a grand start.