LOS ANGELES – The Columbus Blue Jackets weren’t nearly as upset about losing to Los Angeles as they were about a check the Kings’ Rob Scuderi put on Jason Chimera in the first period with his team holding a two-goal lead.
About nine minutes into Los Angeles’ 6-2 victory on Sunday night, Scuderi sent Chimera somersaulting face-first into the ice with a classic old-school hip check along the right boards in the Kings’ zone. Chimera came up bleeding from his right eyebrow, and teammate Derek Dorsett immediately came off the bench to go after Scuderi.
“I don’t care what you call it. It was dirty hit,” Chimera said. “I’ve been hip-checked before, but this wasn’t a hip check at all. It was a direct hit on the knees. I mean, I landed on my face on the ice, and my neck was squished against the ice. I’m lucky I didn’t come out with a concussion or something.
“There’s no room in the game for that. There’s got to be a level of respect out there,” Chimera added. “There are too many guys that are carried out on stretchers because of dirty stuff. (The referees) had no explanation, so I don’t know what they were thinking. When the guy takes your knees out, what are you supposed to do?”
Kings coach Terry Murray didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.
“That’s one of those hits that’s been around for 50 years or longer. We used to see that all the time,” Murray said. “The player skates toward you with his speed and his momentum carries him over your back. It seems that there’s a lot of reaction to hits around the league now, and it was just the same scenario here tonight.”
The incident resulted in a game misconduct for Dorsett and a 10-minute misconduct for Chimera, who had to be restrained by linesman Don Henderson when he tried to get near the Kings’ bench. The Blue Jackets also got a bench minor for too many men on the ice, but the Kings came up empty on the ensuing power play.
“I thought it was a good hit. The game is played in a split-second. I made a decision and went for it,” Scuderi said. “I don’t really know where I got him, but I’m assuming it was questionable if so many of their guys were up in arms about it. I’ve played 300 games in this league, and I don’t have a reputation as a dirty player. I’m certainly not a dirty player. But one hit can stir it up like that.”
Anze Kopitar and Alexander Frolov each scored twice for the Kings, whose fourth straight victory matched their longest winning streak of last season. Jarret Stoll had a goal and an assist, Michael Handzus also scored and Jonathan Quick, stopped 24 shots – including a penalty shot by Rick Nash in the first period – in his first start since signing a three-year contract extension.
Antoine Vermette and Kristian Huselius scored for the Blue Jackets, who completed their trip 1-3 after a franchise-best 5-1-0 start that included a 4-1 win over the Kings at Columbus on Oct. 17. During the trip they allowed 22 goals.
Handzus and Kopitar connected on Los Angeles’ first two shots 49 seconds apart against Steve Mason, who won the Calder Trophy last season as rookie of the year.
Stoll gave the Kings a 3-0 lead at 5:33 of the second period on a pass from rookie Scott Parse, who has had an assist in each of his first two NHL games since being promoted from Manchester of the AHL on Friday.
Vermette, who had a goal and two assists for the Blue Jackets in Saturday’s 6-4 win at Anaheim, got one past Quick at 14:05 of the second when he redirected a return pass from Mike Commodore in the low slot.
The Kings received a two-man advantage when Jakub Voracek was sent off elbowing Drew Doughty at 18:03 of the period and Mike Blunden got a roughing penalty 25 seconds later. Stoll hit the left post with a 50-foot slap shot, but Kopitar restored the Kings’ three-goal margin a minute into the 5-on-3 advantage with a one-timer from the right circle.
The Blue Jackets closed to 4-2 on a power play goal by Huselius with 10:12 to play, after Parse was sent off for hooking. But Frolov responded with an unassisted goal less than 2 minutes later.
Chimera, who got an assist Vermette’s goal after returning from his misconduct, got a roughing penalty with 3:39 left after knocking Frolov’s helmet off from behind as they converged along the boards in the Columbus zone. Frolov scored on the ensuing power play, beating Mason with a backhander from a sharp angle.
Nash was awarded his penalty shot at 13:16 of the first after he was sent in on a breakaway by Raffi Torres and then hooked from behind by Kings defenceman Jack Johnson. But Quick stood his ground, reaching down with his blocker to thwart the Blue Jackets’ captain on his shot to the stick side.
NOTES: Kopitar leads the league with 10 goals and 21 points. … The Blue Jackets have given up the first goal in four consecutive games. … The Kings are 7-0 when leading after two periods. … Kings goalies have stopped 35 of 47 penalty shots during the franchise’s 41-year history. … Frolov, who scored 32 goals last season, hadn’t had one in nine games since beating Phoenix’s Ilya Bryzgalov on opening night.