LOS ANGELES –– The Kings scored three goals in a span of 83 seconds in the third period to take control in their 6-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night at Crypto.com Arena.
Center Anze Kopitar had two goals and an assist to pace the Kings, who won for the fifth time in their last six games. It was Kopitar’s seventh multipoint game of the season and his first since Nov. 30.
Rookie defenseman Sean Durzi had a career-high three points with a goal and two assists. Wingers Dustin Brown and Viktor Arvidsson and defenseman Mikey Anderson each scored a goal, and wingers Trevor Moore and Alex Iafallo contributed two assists apiece. Jonathan Quick made 27 saves.
Winger Brendan Lemieux was a late scratch and Samuel Fagemo made his NHL debut in Lemieux’s stead.
Defenseman Kris Letang and winger Radim Zahorna scored for a Pittsburgh team that had won 11 of its previous 12 games. Forward Jeff Carter returned to Staples Center for the first time since being traded last season and was honored with a first-period video tribute. Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry had 39 saves.
With 1:40 left, the Kings added an insurance goal, with an offensive-zone faceoff win setting up Durzi’s goal from the blue line.
After the Kings’ third-period deluge, Quick still found time to make one more larcenous save, snaring winger Kasperi Kapanen’s wrist shot with his glove immediately following a dangerous giveaway.
A minute and 50 seconds after Pittsburgh drew even, the Kings responded with two goals in 10 seconds and then a third 73 seconds later. Kopitar set up Anderson with a diagonal pass across most of the zone for Anderson, who hammered a slap shot for his first goal of the season.
Then it was winger Trevor Moore skating down a long pass along the boards and sending the puck across to an open Arvidsson for a redirection goal.
Lastly, it was Durzi moving the puck low for winger Iafallo, who slid it across to Kopitar for a tap-in tally.
Less than two minutes into the final period, the Penguins had tied the score. It was Zohorna finding quiet ice between the circles and one-timing the puck between Quick’s pad and blocker.
The Kings carried a 2-1 edge and a 30-17 advantage in shots on goal into the second intermission, thanks to a power-play goal and some late-period magic from Quick, thwarting an odd-man rush and a breakaway in the final minute.
After a first period that saw a goal per side and some more superb saves by Quick, Jarry owned the second period, making a number of challenging stops in a period when he faced 20 shots to Quick’s eight. They included stopping a short-handed Blake Lizotte breakaway and, earlier, stoning Iafallo at the end of a tic-tac-toe sequence during a power play.
During that same power play, however, the Kings earned their first lead of the night, almost 35 minutes into the game. Durzi’s shot created a rebound that Brown popped in from the side of the net. Brown has four points in as many games since exiting COVID protocols.
In the opening frame, Letang, Carter and Malkin were all in on an attack that saw Quick stick to one post on his knees to obviate a wraparound attempt. He went into scramble mode to make multiple saves on that side of the net before powering across to deny a Malkin follow-up on the opposite side of his goal crease.
Kopitar evened the score with 6:12 left in the period after the Penguins failed to exit their own zone, leaving a loose puck in the slot. Kopitar skated into a shot that zipped past Jarry to the near side. After scoring seven goals in 17 days in October, Kopitar scored as many goals on Thursday, two, as he scored in all of November and December combined. He still leads the Kings in assists and overall scoring.
The Kings had nearly knotted the game on defenseman Olli Maatta’s shot from the slot, which hit a goalpost and then banked off Jarry’s back before he was narrowly able to locate and cover the puck.
Pittsburgh opened the scoring at the 4:42 mark on a fluky goal. An offensive-zone faceoff win allowed defenseman Brian Doumolin to load up a shot that went wide and hit the end boards. Letang had activated, enabling him to find the puck below the goal line. He flicked the puck laterally, where it caromed off the bottom of Quick’s right pad and into the net.
More to come on this story.