LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Ben Scrivens played in eight games for the Los Angeles Kings this season and became an unlikely NHL sensation over the past week—all without ever stepping onto the Staples Center ice.
When the goalie finally got a chance to win one for the home fans, he received plenty of help from his surging teammates.
Anze Kopitar and Matt Frattin each had a goal and an assist, and Scrivens made 19 saves in the Kings’ 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.
Scrivens’ shutout streak ended at 191 minutes, 19 seconds, on Valtteri Filppula’s power-play goal late in the second period, but injured Jonathan Quick’s new backup cruised to his fourth consecutive victory in his home debut.
“It was nice to play in front of our hometown fans,” Scrivens said. “But I’ll play every game they tell me to play.”
The undrafted Cornell product will have to play a great deal over the next few weeks, but the Kings are growing more confident in him with each win.
Justin Williams also had a goal and an assist for the Kings, who have earned a point in seven consecutive games. Dustin Brown and Dwight King also scored in Los Angeles’ impressive return from a four-game road trip.
“I had a really good feeling about tonight,” Williams said. “Guys were jumping. Guys were excited to play at home again. That cliché (about) the first one at home after a long road trip (being tough) seems like a lot of hogwash to me.”
Drew Doughty had two assists for the Kings, who are attempting to keep pace in the tough Pacific Division while Quick and top goal-scorer Jeff Carter are out with injuries.
So far, it’s working: The Kings haven’t lost in regulation since Nov. 2, and they scored five goals in a 23-minute stretch spanning the first two periods against the Lightning, avenging a 5-1 loss in Tampa Bay last month.
Ben Bishop stopped 26 shots in his first loss of November, and Victor Hedman had a goal and an assist as the Lightning fell out of first place in the Eastern Conference with their second straight loss.
“This hasn’t happened in back-to-back games for us this year,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. “This was the first time we’ve been on the wrong end of the score twice in a row. Coming out west is a tough trip. There are some good teams out here, and I’m sure L.A. was licking their chops a little bit after what happened to them in Tampa.”
With 31 points, Los Angeles moved one point behind Chicago and Anaheim for the overall NHL lead and into a third-place tie with the Blues, San Jose and Phoenix.
After joining the Kings from Toronto during the summer, Scrivens barely played behind Quick in the first 18 games.
But the Kings’ 2012 Conn Smythe Trophy winner strained his groin late in an overtime loss at Buffalo on Nov. 12, and Scrivens has been outstanding since, allowing two goals in a road win over the New York Islanders before finishing the trip with back-to-back shutouts.
Scrivens fell just short of Quick’s franchise-record shutout streak of 202 minutes, 11 seconds, but coach Darryl Sutter gave more credit to his skaters than his goalie for the Kings’ recent defensive prowess.
“(Scrivens) didn’t have much work tonight,” Sutter said. “He made a big save in the third period. Our team, we don’t give up a lot.”
Boston passed Tampa Bay atop the Atlantic Division standings with a win over the Rangers earlier in the evening.
Tampa Bay captain Martin St. Louis had an assist in his 1,000th NHL game, but the Lightning are winless halfway through their four-game West Coast road trip, with Bishop struggling in both Phoenix and Los Angeles.
“It’s not a panic time,” St. Louis said. “It’s just about addressing the mistakes and correcting them. We’ve got to stop this. We don’t want to turn a two-gamer into a four- or five-gamer. At the end of the day, we all have to do more. Sometimes hard work is overlooked over execution, but execution is just as important as working hard.”
Kopitar has 16 points in 14 games after a slow start to the season, while Frattin scored just his second goal in 21 games. Frattin arrived last summer along with Scrivens in the trade sending Jonathan Bernier to the Maple Leafs.
King put Los Angeles up 4-0 with a short-handed goal late in the second period, forcing a turnover and deflecting Linden Vey’s shot for his career-best seventh goal.
Filppula scored his team-leading ninth goal during the same 4-minute power play. Moments later, Brown broke in alone for his second goal in 18 games after a steal by Frattin.
NOTES: Los Angeles hasn’t allowed more than two goals in seven straight games. … The Lightning made their first visit to Staples Center since Nov. 4, 2010. … Tampa Bay scratched F B.J. Crombeen for the third time this season. D Andrej Sustr also sat out for the sixth time in 21 games.