LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Justin Williams and the Los Angeles Kings know they’re one of the NHL’s best teams whenever their streaky offence measures up to their ever-sturdy defence.
After a dominant win over an Eastern Conference power, Williams is confident the Kings are headed back into balance.
Williams had a power-play goal and an assist in his 800th career game, Jonathan Quick made 20 saves and the Kings slowed their recent slide with a 4-2 victory over Boston on Thursday night.
Jeff Carter, Alec Martinez and captain Dustin Brown also scored for the Kings, who won for just the second time in eight games by thoroughly outplaying the Atlantic Division leaders.
After a prolonged slump, Los Angeles’ goal-scorers might be waking up: Carter launched 10 shots and scored his 16th goal, while Brown’s third-period score gave the Kings more than three goals for the first time in nine games since Dec. 19.
“Sometimes things have a way of evening out when you’re not scoring,” Williams said. “I thought we were very assertive tonight. … We should be proud of the way we responded when they pushed us, and we should be proud we scored four goals on a stingy defensive team.”
Although the Kings have allowed the NHL’s fewest goals, their meagreoffence has knocked them off the scorching pace set by the rival Anaheim Ducks atop the overall league standings.
But their defence is still dominant, no matter who’s in goal: Quick earned his second win since his return from a 24-game injury absence, allowing just four goals in three games.
“Being out for seven weeks, it seems like he didn’t even miss a game,” Brown said. “That’s why he’s the best goalie.”
Justin Florek scored his first career goal for the Bruins, who have lost on the first two stops of their three-game California road trip. Tuukka Rask gave up three goals on 18 shots before Chad Johnson replaced him.
“We’re just not getting it done right now,” Johnson said. “We just need to regroup and take as many positives as we can from these games and realize what we need to do to have success and win games. I think it just comes down to intensity and that passion to want to win games. That’s what we’re lacking. When we’re sitting back, we’re not a good team.”
Matt Fraser also scored for Boston, which had another frustrating offensive performance in its fifth loss in six road games despite the landmark goal from Florek, who tipped home a shot in front of Quick on a power play with 2:13 to play.
“We know we can play much better than we are right now,” Boston captain Zdeno Chara said. “That’s what’s frustrating. We need to get our game back. It’s not going to happen overnight, and it’s not going to happen by trying to make some high-risk plays. We’ve just got to stay patient and slowly gain our game back. We’ve just got to grind it out.”
Carter’s opening goal was his sixth in nine games, highlighting a 10-shot performance by the Canadian Olympic team selection.
The Bruins killed off a penalty to Dougie Hamilton spanning the first intermission, but Hamilton stuck his stick out of the penalty box to play the puck as his penalty expired, putting him right back in the box for interference. Williams beat Rask with a wrist shot moments later for his 14th goal.
Just 1:01 later, Martinez scored his first goal in three weeks on a long, wobbly shot, chasing Rask.
Hamilton forced a turnover midway through the period that led to Fraser’s goal on a setup from Carl Soderberg. But the Kings clamped down on defence again, and Brown scored his ninth goal in the third period on a well-placed wrist shot.
“We didn’t get much from our top two lines, and you need that if you’re going to win some hockey games,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “They were pretty quiet tonight.”
NOTES: Bruins F Shawn Thornton served the final game of his 15-game suspension for attacking Pittsburgh’s Brooks Orpik on Dec. 7. The notorious fourth-liner is eligible to return Saturday in San Jose. … The Bruins hadn’t visited Los Angeles since March 2012. The teams meet again Jan. 20 in Boston. … Florek was playing in his third career game. He scored his first point two nights earlier in Anaheim. … Milan Lucic returned to the Bruins’ lineup after missing one game with an illness. … Quick earned an assist on Williams’ goal.