Lowry, Laine score in Jets’ 2-1 win over slumping Kings
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Winnipeg Jets have figured out ways to prevent their losses from lingering this season.
The Los Angeles Kings are in a two-week funk, and it finally knocked them out of first place in the Pacific Division.
Adam Lowry and Patrik Laine scored in the Jets’ fifth victory in six games, 2-1 over the slumping Kings on Wednesday night.
Steve Mason made 38 saves during his first start since Nov. 11 as the surprising Jets opened a three-game California swing with the first regulation road victory over the Kings in the history of a franchise that began as the Atlanta Thrashers.
With a bounce-back victory after a loss in Nashville two days earlier, Winnipeg has surged into second place in the Central Division with nine victories in 12 games overall. The Jets have taken back-to-back losses only once since the first two games of the season, and their resilience was on display throughout a defense-dominated win in LA.
“We know how they play, and we had to be ready for that,” said Nikolaj Ehlers, who set up Laine’s goal with a beautiful pass. “We came out with a plan, and we succeeded.”
Mason picked up his second victory of the season in a stellar return from a prolonged break while Connor Hellebuyck manned the Jets’ crease. The veteran goalie even got an assist on Lowry’s opening goal.
“Early on, I was able to feel the puck, so that was good for me after being off a week and a half,” Mason said. “It was important to feel a little rhythm and then just push that forward to the rest of the game.”
Tyler Toffoli tipped home a power-play goal early in the third period for the Kings, who have lost six of seven. The expansion Vegas Golden Knights won in Anaheim and surged into first place in the Pacific in front of the Kings (12-8-2), who got off to a 9-1-1 start.
Jonathan Quick stopped 25 shots, but the low-scoring Kings lost for the sixth time in their last seven games at Staples Center, undoing much of the good feeling from a strong start under new coach John Stevens.
“That’s what happens when you don’t play a full game,” captain Anze Kopitar said. “It’s usually good enough to lose by one. ... We’ve got to stop the bleeding, turn the ship around and get her going again.”
Lowry scored in the final second of the first period when Quick momentarily lost sight of the puck and couldn’t scramble across his crease in time to cut off an open net.
The Jets extended their lead in the final minute of the second during another power play. Ehlers took the puck behind the net and feathered a backhand pass out front to Laine, who fanned slightly on a shot that still went underneath Quick for his 11th goal.
The Kings generated few scoring chances and cashed in none of them in the first two periods, continuing their offensive struggles in November. Los Angeles hasn’t scored more than two goals in regulation during any of its six recent losses.
“We just didn’t get the start that we wanted, having to come back from two goals down again,” Toffoli said. “We’ve just got to keep working as a group. No letdown, no getting down on ourselves if we don’t make the tough plays. We’ve got to find it within, and nobody is going to help us. We’ve got to do it ourselves.”
The Kings finally scored when Oscar Fantenberg put a low shot in front of the net and Toffoli ramped it past Mason for his team-leading 10th goal.
Winnipeg took three penalties in its own offensive zone in the third period, but Los Angeles couldn’t capitalize on its last two power plays.
NOTES: Lowry’s father, Dave, is an assistant coach with the Kings, and they faced each other on opposing NHL benches for the first time. ... Before the game, the Kings signed goalie Jack Campbell to a two-year contract extension. Campbell, the former 11th overall draft pick by Dallas, has played only two career NHL games, but he led the AHL in victories last season for the Kings’ affiliate in Ontario, where he has also spent this season. ... Kings LW Marian Gaborik believes he will return soon from left knee surgery that has kept him out since April.
Jets: At the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.
Kings: At the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
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