Leave it to the new guy to show the Los Angeles Kings how to finish.
Randy Jones had a goal and an assist in his debut with the Kings, and Los Angeles beat Carolina 5-2 on Wednesday night to extend the Hurricanes’ winless streak to 13. Wayne Simmonds, former Hurricane Justin Williams and Ryan Smyth each added a goal and an assist, Jarret Stoll also scored and Anze Kopitar had two assists to give him an NHL-leading 30 points.
The Kings, who allowed three unanswered third-period goals in a 4-1 loss at Chicago two nights earlier, snapped their two-game slide by reeling off three straight goals in the final 20 minutes.
Tuomo Ruutu scored twice for Carolina, tying it 2-all with just under 16 minutes remaining on a snap shot from the left circle. Roughly 2½ minutes later, Jones took a pretty across-the-goal feed from Williams and tapped it past Manny Legace to put the Kings ahead to stay.
“I was just trying to get to the net and give (Williams) an outlet pass,” said Jones, who was claimed off waivers from Philadelphia on Oct. 29 and didn’t dress for the Kings’ previous five games. “The guy’s got great vision.”
For Carolina, it was yet another excruciating loss in a season already full of them. Playing their first full game without injured franchise goalie Cam Ward, the Hurricanes recovered after going more than 18 minutes between shots on goal, but were held to fewer than three goals for the eighth consecutive game and dropped their seventh straight in regulation.
“We have to fight like the last 20 minutes for 60 (minutes), and then harder, and then some,” coach Paul Maurice said. “We’re just not willing or seem like (the players) fully appreciate, when you’re undermanned, exactly how hard you have to fight.”
The Hurricanes (0-10-3 in their last 13) equaled the worst start in franchise history with seven points in 17 games. They’re on their longest slide since relocating to North Carolina and are one winless game from matching the club record of 14 straight (0-8-6) set in 1992 when they were in Hartford.
Backup goalie Erik Ersberg had 22 saves in his second start and first appearance in nearly a month for the Kings.
“I played one game all season – so it was easy to keep track,” Ersberg said with a smile. “I don’t count more backwards than that.”
Legace stopped 26 shots in his first start with Carolina. He was playing for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves when the Hurricanes signed him two days earlier to replace Ward, who will miss about four weeks after suffering a deep cut to his left leg in last week’s loss at Columbus.
“I just didn’t make a big save in the third period to give our guys a chance to win,” Legace said.
It didn’t take the Kings long to welcome the veteran goalie back to the NHL – or to put the Hurricanes in yet another deficit.
Smyth made it 1-0 about 3½ minutes in by backhanding the rebound of Brown’s shot past a sprawled Legace and into an uncovered net for his ninth goal. It was the quickest goal allowed by Carolina this year.
“We were aware of (the Hurricanes’ losing streak), but we had our own pressure on ourselves to get off our two-game skid,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said. “It was about getting back to playing well.”
NOTES: Kings RW Alexander Frolov had two assists. … Los Angeles won in Raleigh for the first time since 2001. … Kopitar, who had the second assist on both the Kings’ first and last goals, has points in 16 of 19 games. … Carolina D Joni Pitkanen (illness) was scratched. … Carolina’s two young cornerstones, injured C Eric Staal and Ward, were simultaneously out of the lineup for the first time since March 19, 2004.