LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings used some much-needed tenaciousness in the third period and clutch goals from two of their go-to guys to pull off an impressive comeback win over the undermanned Boston Bruins.
Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar scored in the third period and had both Los Angeles goals in the shootout, leading the Kings to a 4-3 victory Saturday.
Jarret Stoll scored in the first period and Jonathan Quick stopped 22 shots, including Daniel Paille’s short-handed breakaway bid in the final minute of the second period with Boston leading 3-1.
“We just found away to win,” Brown said. “Over the course of the year there are many up-and-down games that maybe we should or should not have won. I think it all evens out in the end. It’s just a matter of being consistent. The points are so important right now with Detroit right behind us. And today was one of the games that, once we’re in the playoffs, we will say was huge.”
Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder scored 11 seconds apart during the second period for Boston, and Tim Thomas made 31 saves in the final regular-season game the Bruins will play outside the Eastern time this season. Miroslav Satan scored his second goal in six games since signing with Boston as an unrestricted free agent.
“Our guys left it all on the ice again today,” Boston coach Claude Julien said. “It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to come up with the win.”
Marco Sturm, who leads the Bruins with 15 goals, missed the game due to a leg injury. Defenceman Andrew Ference was sidelined for the fifth straight game with a groin injury, centre Patrice Bergeron missed his sixth straight game with a broken thumb, and Marc Savard was out for the fourth straight game with a knee injury.
Defenceman Mark Stuart returned to the Bruins after missing 14 games with a broken sternum, and centre David Krejci was back in uniform after sitting out a 2-1 shootout win at San Jose on Thursday night because of a lower-body injury.
It was the second time during this three-game West Coast swing in which the Bruins coughed up a third period lead and lost. They also did it Wednesday night at Anaheim, when Tuukka Rask gave up goals by Ryan Getzlaf and Steve Eminger in a 4-3 defeat. Prior to that game, Boston was 12-1-0 when leading after two periods.
“We were very short-handed, I’ll be honest. But it was positive overall,” Thomas said. “Even though the bite of not getting the two points might not feel good, if you look at the big picture, it was a good trip. We very easily could have came out with six out of six points.”
The Bruins are 14-1-1 in games they have led by at least two goals. The other loss was on Jan. 7, when Chicago beat them 5-2.
“I thought we battled really hard and we gave everything we had,” Boston’s Zedeno Chara said. “It’s just one of those games you can probably be happy with a point – but you can also be unhappy with the point you lost.”
The Kings won a couple of critical puck battles along the boards deep in the Boston zone during the third period. Brown triggered the comeback with 9:28 remaining in regulation, after Alexander Frolov got the puck away from Trent Whitfield and fed it to Brown in front of the net.
Kopitar got the equalizer with 7:06 left in the third, converting Wayne Simmonds’ pass from behind the net after Michal Handzus worked the puck free along the right wall. Kopitar has five goals over his last 30 contests, after scoring 14 in his first 18 games this season.
“It was our mindset that made the difference. Everyone got pretty hyped up, the crowd loved it, and we feasted off of it,” Kopitar said. “We built some momentum and we were able to get some late goals. That extra point is very big right now.”
The Bruins, who came in with a league-leading percentage of 87.7 on the penalty kill, have allowed just five goals in 71 short-handed situations over their last 21 games. The Kings were 0 for 5 against them, including a pair of 5-on-3 power plays that lasted 1:12 and 39 seconds respectively.
“We got tired killing 5-on-3s, probably, for a little while,” Thomas said. “You’ve got your most important guys out there killing the 5-on-3s, and it takes a few minutes to catch your breath. They kind of took advantage of those few minutes it took for those guys that worked so hard killing of the 5-on-3s to get their legs back.”
NOTES: Thomas and Quick will be teammates on the U.S. Olympic squad. … Boston is 2-4-1 since beating Philadelphia at Fenway Park in the third annual Winter Classic.