Kings use strong second period to beat Blue Jackets 4-1
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Carl Grundstrom had a goal and an assist in Los Angeles’ four-goal second period, Pheonix Copley made 30 saves and the Kings beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 on Thursday night.
Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar and Viktor Arvidsson also scored to help the Kings improve to 7-0-1 in their past eight games.
“We just got to stick to the game plan. If we get away from that, that’s when we struggle, and I think the guys have bought in now and are ready to play it, and we’re gonna be good with it,” Doughty said.
Kirill Marchenko scored for Columbus. Daniil Tarasov was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals on 27 shots, and Michael Hutchinson made nine saves in relief. The Blue Jackets have lost five of six.
After dominating the first period but having nothing to show for it, the Kings finally went up early in the second on Doughty’s fifth of the season. He used some nifty stick-handling to get into the slot before tapping in his own rebound, admittedly tapping into a side of his game he had to suppress for team success.
“I used to do that all the time when I was younger,” Doughty said. “I kind of put it on the back burner for a long time. ... I need to play a good two-way game and, yeah, maybe I should do it more often.”
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Kopitar made it 2-0 less than three minutes later, and that was plenty for the Kings to move to a 2-0-1 start on their seven-game homestand.
Copley nearly got his second shutout of the season while taking his record to an unlikely 21-4-3 in 31 appearances. Neither Copley nor Joonas Korpisalo have allowed more than two goals in the seven games since the Kings dealt away franchise icon Jonathan Quick to the Blue Jackets on Feb. 28. A day after going to Columbus, Quick was traded to Vegas.
Since returning from the All-Star break, the Kings are 12-2-2. They have not lost in regulation in nine home games during that stretch, with their lone defeat coming in a shootout against Nashville on Saturday.
“Four lines and three pairs of defensemen are committed to doing things right,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “I look at the goal we gave up tonight, we did everything we wanted to do or needed to do. Went off the ref’s foot and into the slot and they score, so those are gonna get built into (playoff) games or series, and you have to be able to overcome them. But just complete commitment to doing what we do.”
Doughty praised the progression of the fourth line of Grundstrom, center Rasmus Kupari and forward Arthur Kaliyev for helping power the Kings’ recent success, with Grundstrom emerging as a driving force at both ends of the ice.
“He’s come a long way,” McLellan said. “His goal is a prime example. He takes a shot, he strips a puck, he wins a battle, he rolls out and shoots it again. Simple, straightforward, powerful.”
NOT HIS FAULT
Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said Tarasov wasn’t to blame on any of the first three goals he allowed and caught a bad break on the fourth when a Columbus player lost his stick in the build up.
“We put him in bad positions. I felt bad for him because he deserved better,” Larsen said.
NOTES: The Kings also had four goals in the second period of a 5-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night. It was the fourth time in franchise history Los Angeles has scored four goals in the second period in consecutive games. … Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins missed his third straight game as he remains in Latvia to be with his grandmother.
Blue Jackets: At Anaheim on Friday night.
Kings: Host Vancouver on Saturday night.
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