I know it's early in the season and the Los Angeles Kings were on the second night of a back-to-back, so another loss wouldn't have been the end of the world. Having said that... the Winnipeg Jets aren't going to be a good team this year, and a home defeat would have caused some very real concern in LA.
Thankfully, there will be no such concern after the Kings' 4-1 win. At least until the next losing skid.
Once again, the Kings' dynamic second line was the source of most of the offense. On Saturday, Tyler Toffoli was the only member of the trio who didn't score a goal, despite a breakaway opportunity and a couple near misses. On Sunday, all three found the back of the net. Jordan Nolan (playing like he really wanted to keep his spot in the lineup) entered the zone with control, stopped in the corner, and fed the puck back to Drew Doughty. Doughty had room and gave it up to Jeff Carter, whose initial shot was foiled by Michael Hutchinson. Doughty's second shot trickled just wide, but Toffoli swiftly picked it up and tucked it away. I'm not sure how it's even possible to score between someone's legs and go top shelf on the same shot, but Toffoli just scores however he wants.
The Kings' bright start continued eleven minutes in, as the continued offensive pressure gave way to another goal. Again, it was a rebound chance off of a Doughty shot. This time, though, there was a clever pass by Marian Gaborik after he jumped on the rebound. Rather than trying to stuff it through Hutchinson, Gaborik tapped it sideways to Anze Kopitar, who had a wide-open net once he got around the goalie. 2-0, and the Kings were in business. Unlike yesterday, the Kings were able to hold off their desperate opponents in getting to intermission with a two-goal lead. Martin Jones (ALWAYS USE BOTH GOALIES IN A BACK-TO-BACK) looked solid early on.
The same could not be said for Michael Hutchinson, who had been victimized by rebounds and then gave up a soft goal to Tanner Pearson to start the second period. Toffoli hit Jacob Trouba along the boards to free up the puck, and Pearson elected to shoot with Carter being shadowed on the other side. The wrister snuck through the gear of Hutchinson, and as the puck crossed the goal line, Jets head coach Paul Maurice signaled for Ondrej Pavelec. Pavelec is a pretty rough goalie in his own right, but he managed to keep LA from truly embarrassing the Jets. Not that LA didn't have their chances, with the scoreless third period giving us a number of odd-man rushes.
Before that, though, there was one more goal in it for LA, and it again showcased the Carter line's ability to turn defense into offense. After Alec Martinez chipped the puck away from TJ Galiardi, Tanner Pearson's pass and Jeff Carter's tip put Tyler Toffoli in alone on Pavelec. His bid was stopped, but Carter followed up on the rebound to make it 4-0. The goal put all three members of the line at a goal and an assist on the evening. Productive! Bryan Little would get one back on a rebound of a shot by Michael Frolik (who was the most dangerous Jet), but Winnipeg wasn't getting much else past Martin Jones. Jones made a particularly good save on a shorthanded bid by Andrew Ladd in the third, which might have at least caused a little bit of worry at Staples.
The only other buzzworthy moment was a scrap between Robyn Regehr and Blake Wheeler, for which Wheeler picked up an instigator penalty. The trouble started when Regehr executed a Dustin Brown-style hit, and by that, I mean he was a little bit out-of-position to actually make the check but went for it anyway. His lower body caught Mark Scheifele down low, and though Regehr was whistled for tripping, Wheeler decided he needed more retribution and dropped the gloves. Winnipeg losing an offensive threat for 17 minutes didn't help their comeback chances, and Martinez was actually playing with Slava Voynov in place of Regehr when he sprung the second line on the Kings' fourth goal.
With the win, LA is back in the win column, sitting at 1-1-1. If they take advantage of a favorable matchup at home against Edmonton on Tuesday, most of the concerns of last week will be forgotten.