COLUMBUS, Ohio - The win was important to Jeff Carter—and not because he was booed every time he touched the puck.
Mike Richards provided late insurance with his first goal of the season and Jonathan Quick stopped 18 shots to lead the Los Angeles Kings over the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 on Tuesday night.
A crowd of 11,019 was all over Carter, a former Blue Jacket who was traded away midway through last season. But he scored a goal for the Kings, struggling to build some momentum following their championship season.
"You just go out and you play your game," Carter said, chuckling at the fan reaction. "It's a huge game for us, for both teams. We both need wins, so it was a big one."
Anze Kopitar and Slava Voynov also scored while Justin Williams had three assists for the reigning Stanley Cup champions, who began the night 14th in the Western Conference with six points—two more than last-place Calgary and one fewer than Columbus.
Integral to the win was killing a 4-minute double-minor in the third period with the Kings hanging onto a one-goal lead.
"We built a lot of momentum over a lot of games with a good penalty kill," said Richards, who also had an assist. "Tonight was no different. And Quickie made a couple of big saves there in the third period."
Quick was at his best with the game on the line, particularly in the first and third periods.
"We played a good, smart 20 minutes on the road," Quick said of the final period. "They're a good team and it's good to get out of here with two points."
Derick Brassard and Dereck MacKenzie had the Blue Jackets' goals.
Clinging to a 3-2 lead early in the third period, the Kings had to kill off a double-minor when Carter, a vilified ex-Blue Jacket dealt at the trade deadline a year ago after only 39 games, was called for a high stick that bloodied Vinny Prospal's lip. The Kings limited Columbus to only one shot over the 4 minutes.
"I've talked about how your power play can create positive energy," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "That 4 minutes were really just draining the clock. We spent more time working back to our zone than we did in the offensive zone. Our execution wasn't good. Credit to them and what they did, but we had to be better in that area. It was an opportunity we let slip away."
Moments later, Quick got most of his glove on a wicked shot by Derek Dorsett, batting it away midway through the period.
Los Angeles then ended the suspense when Williams collected his third assist on a shot that trickled between the leg pads of goalie Steve Mason—with Richards right there in the crease to jam it home for a two-goal lead.
"It's good to see (Williams) score points," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "It's good to see Richie score. Hopefully that's a step for them."
The Kings came into the second period down 1-0 and completely dominated. They outshot the Blue Jackets 17-2 while scoring three goals.
Just 32 seconds in, Kopitar took a stretch pass from Williams, corralled the bouncing puck and got enough on a backhander to tuck the puck under Mason's left arm for his third of the year.
After Prospal went to the penalty box for interference, the Kings took a brief lead when Carter's blind centring pass, intended for Kopitar, instead glanced off defenceman Fedor Tyutin's skate for a power-play goal.
Nick Foligno helped the Blue Jackets pull even after stealing a puck in the offensive zone. He fed rookie Tim Erixon, called up because of several injuries on the Columbus blue line, who slid a pass to Brassard in the slot. He whipped the puck past Quick with a spinning backhander.
Voynov, who had a first-period goal disallowed, finally got on the board with a drive from the top of the right circle. Williams provided some congestion in front of the net and the puck zipped right past Mason.
The Kings played keep-away with the lead the rest of the way.
"Your confidence gets better with every game you play," Williams said.
NOTES: Ds Cody Goloubef and Nick Holden, recalled from the minors this week, made their season debuts for Columbus because of injuries on the blue line. Goloubef had 6 minutes of NHL experience coming in, Holden five games. ... The Kings have won nine of the last 12 meetings with the Blue Jackets, including five of the last six in Columbus. ... MacKenzie's goal marked the first time the Blue Jackets led after the first period all year. ... Columbus D Jack Johnson, acquired in the Carter deal along with a first-round pick, had 34:13 of ice time three days after setting a franchise record with 34:59 in a 4-2 win over Detroit.