Kings 3, Tampa Bay Lightning 1
Eight keys to the game:
THE FACTS: The lowest-scoring team in the NHL was better than the worst defense Tuesday night, as Anze Kopitar, Kyle Clifford and Dustin Penner scored goals and goalie Jonathan Quick stopped 24 shots to lift the Kings to a much-needed road victory at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
THE STAT: The Kings took 20 shots on goal, their lowest total since taking 19 against Edmonton on Nov. 3. Of course, the only stat they care about is the three that got through to the net.
TURNING POINT: What originally looked like an ill-advised roughing penalty on Clifford turned out to be the break the Kings needed. Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman hit the side of the net with a tough-angle shot just as the penalty expired, causing the arena’s horn operator to mistakenly push the button. Just as the play was unfolding, Clifford skated out of the penalty box and took a perfect stretch pass from defenseman Rob Scuderi for a breakaway. He skated in on Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson, faked a forehand and quickly switched to a backhand as he slid the puck through Roloson'a legs for a 2-1 lead with 9:44 left in the second period. It was the fourth goal of the season for Clifford and his second game winner.
HOT: Kopitar scored for the second consecutive game, giving him 11 points in the last 12 games. Justin Williams, the other simmering forward for the Kings, took a drop pass from Matt Greene near the blue line and passed the puck to Kopitar, who was cutting toward the left post. Kopitar made a perfectly placed deflection high into the net for his team-high 17th goal of the season. Williams has 13 points in the last 12 games.
NOT: The fourth line of Brad Richardson, Trent Hunter and Colin Fraser were missing in action for much of the game. Richardson, who came in averaging 13 minutes 15 seconds of ice time this season, played a season-low 6:30. Hunter came in averaging 10:30 but played just 6:50, and Fraser came in averaging 9:47 but was held to 7:29. The trio, who’ve combined for six goals in 117 games this season, combined for two shots on net against Tampa Bay.
GOOD MOVE: Penner scored his second goal in four games since the All-Star break, a great sign for the offense-challenged Kings. Penner found room in the slot and took a pass from Mike Richards, blasting a shot past Roloson that was almost took quick to be seen. Richards ended an eight-game point-less streak on the play, his longest since the 2006-07 season.
BAD MOVE: With the Kings leading, 1-0, and about 12 minutes remaining in the second period, Scuderi set up for a slap shot from the point but his stick snapped, leading to a 2-on-1 heading the opposite direction. Tampa Bay left wing Teddy Purcell had the puck with the NHL’s leading goal scorer, Steven Stamkos, to his right. Scuderi, positioned in the middle, probably should have dropped back and taken Stamkos out of the play, leaving Quick to focus on Purcell, but Scuderi went to the ice in an attempt to block the pass, still without a stick. Purcell found an opening to get the puck through, however, and Stamkos had an easy shot into the open side of the net for his 35th goal of the season.
NOTABLE: The Kings are 19-4-5 when scoring first this season. In the last 81 games, when leading after two periods, they are 76-0-5. When scoring three or more goals this season, their record is 15-0-1 … With his goal against the Kings, Stamkos has now scored against every team in the league in a little more than 3 1/2 seasons in the NHL.
UP NEXT: Thursday at Florida Panthers, 4:30 p.m. ET.