LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The struggling Los Angeles Kings won’t play another game for 20 days because of the Olympic break. That will give them plenty of time to savour Robyn Regehr’s first career overtime goal and try to figure out how to score more often.
The 33-year-old defenceman connected 2:33 into the extra session, giving the Kings a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night after a 10-game stretch in which Los Angeles was 1-8-1. It was only the eighth goal by the Kings in a span of eight games, including a 5-3 loss to Chicago on Monday.
“It’s important that we got a win,” captain Dustin Brown said. “This team has been struggling and we’re trying to find a way to break through. Going on a two-week break with a taste of a win in our mouths is important, and it feels good. We have a good team here. It’s just a matter of fighting our way through it.”
Jonathan Quick outdueled fellow Olympic goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky with 24 saves and Jake Muzzin scored the tying goal early in the third period, helping Los Angeles end a four-game losing streak.
Bobrovsky, last season’s Vezina Trophy winner, stopped 18 shots and lost for just the third time in 13 starts. Jack Johnson scored Columbus’ goal during a power play early in the first period.
Regehr used teammate Jeff Carter and Blue Jackets defenceman Denis Savard as a screen before slapping his second goal of the season past Bobrovsky from the top of the left circle. Both of his goals have come against Columbus.
“The guys gave me a hard time before the game about scoring that goal on these guys a couple weeks ago in their building, and I just got a good opportunity tonight,” said Regehr, who played in his 1,000th regular-season game Saturday. “Mike (Richards) did a great job at locking the puck up the wall in overtime, Jeff was doing a really good job with the screen, and it was just a matter of putting the puck on the net after that.”
The Kings, 0-for-6 on the power play, got the equalizer with 16:51 left in regulation and the teams skating four-on-four. Muzzin cruised down the slot and converted Anze Kopitar’s centring pass for his fourth goal after staggered penalties to Columbus’ Nikita Nikitin for hooking and Slava Voynov for tripping.
“Our team played a very strong road game tonight,” Johansen said. “Credit to L.A., they really stuck to their game and found a way to win. They’re a big-bodied team over there. We had to match the physicality, and I thought our team toughness in here showed out on the ice. Our guys played a hard and heavy game, but Quick made a few big saves on us.”
Quick, 10-2-0 in his last 12 games against Columbus, is one of six Kings players who will go to the Olympics—along with equipment manager Darren Granger.
“You want all the guys that are going over there to play in the gold medal game, because they deserve it,” coach Darryl Sutter said.
For the second straight game, the Kings gave up a power-play goal in the first 2 minutes. Johnson got a cross-ice pass from Ryan Johansen in the right circle and beat Quick to the glove side with a 35-foot wrist shot while Tyler Toffoli was off for hooking.
It was only the second goal in 53 games and fourth this season for Johnson, who was acquired by Columbus in a trade that sent Carter to Los Angeles in February 2012.
The Kings, who were outshot 10-2 in the opening period, got their first power-play opportunity 1:50 before intermission. But the final 38 seconds of the man advantage were negated when they were assessed another bench minor for too many men.
Another Kings power play was cut short early in the second period, when Brown was sent off for charging with 14 seconds left on Brandon Dubinsky’s goalie interference penalty.
Los Angeles’ next power play came at 9:21 of the second, after R.J. Umberger’s delay-of-game penalty. But Quick had to be sharp to thwart rapid-fire short-handed attempts by Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov just outside the crease.
“We didn’t have the start that we wanted to in the game, and we’ve been on a terrible run here in the last month. So we’re really happy to get this win,” Regehr said. “It was a very important game for us. Now we can enjoy the break, then come back and get to work.”
NOTES: Former Kings broadcaster Pete Weber is in a St. Paul, Minn., hospital after undergoing a successful heart procedure. Weber currently is the TV play-by-play man for the Nashville Predators. … All four Blue Jackets players who will be competing at the Sochi Olympics were born in Russia—Bobrovsky, Tyutin, Anisimov and Nikitin. Slovakian-born RW Marian Gaborik, a two-time Olympian, withdrew Thursday due to his slow recovery from a broken collarbone that occurred on Dec. 21 and required surgery.