Lack of scoring and being ineffective on special teams are a huge reason why Los Angeles is at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. But the Kings broke out of their offensive malaise on Saturday, tying a season high in goals as they defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 5-1.
“It’s probably one of our more dominant wins and we actually played a good team here in Vegas, very good team. It was a full 60 minutes,” said defenseman Drew Doughty, who had an assist. “When your team does that, you’re going to win more hockey games and hopefully we realized that tonight because we need to win more.”
The Kings scored their most goals since a 5-2 victory over Edmonton on Nov. 25. It was only the sixth time in 30 games that they have scored four or more goals. Los Angeles, which has two wins in its last five games, has a league-low 23 points and with 66 goals is last in the league in scoring.
Oscar Lindberg scored for Vegas less than five minutes into the game before Los Angeles got goals from Nikita Scherbak, Matt Luff, Jeff Carter, Derek Forbort and Nate Thompson. Jonathan Quick made 29 saves.
Forbort also had an assist for his second multipoint game of the season, and Jake Muzzin added two assists.
Kings coach Willie Desjardins was pleased with how the team started, but what made him happier was the performance of his specialty teams. They got their first power-play goal in five games and killed all three of Vegas’ opportunities. Los Angeles had allowed a power-play goal in five of its last six games coming into Saturday.
The Kings came into the game with the third-worst power play in the league, while the Golden Knights were second in penalty killing.
“I thought our leaders did a great job today. They talked about the power play and penalty killing and we responded with a great effort on the kill today,” Desjardins said.
Lindberg opened the scoring four minutes into the game when he took a pass from Tomas Nosek in front of the net and slipped it through Quick’s legs. Scherbak evened it four minutes later on the power play when his snap shot from just beyond the right faceoff circle beat Marc-Andre Fleury. Scherbak — who scored on his fourth shift with the team — was claimed on waivers from Montreal on Sunday, but his debut was delayed due to work visa problems.
“That’s probably one of those moments that is going to stick to my memory for a while, definitely. And that’s a great win. We deserved it,” Scherbak said.
The game was tied at 1 after the first period when the Kings took control with a pair of goals in the second. Luff scored a power-play goal on a one-timer from Brendan Leipsic with less than eight minutes to go. Four minutes later, Carter was credited with his sixth goal of the season on a shot he played off the boards that bounced off the right skate of Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt and went into the net.
Forbort’s shot from near the blue line while Fleury was being screened put the Kings up by three less than three minutes into the third, then Muzzin fed Thompson for a one-timer with less than two minutes remaining.
Fleury stopped 20 shots for the Golden Knights, who had won seven of their last eight.
“You can’t turn pucks over to them,” Schmidt said. “You can’t get into that style game, because that’s what they want. They want you to turn a few pucks over coming into the zone and counter. And I thought we fed their attack.”
NOTES: Los Angeles LW Kyle Clifford took a hit to the head from Vegas C Pierre-Edouard Bellemare during the second period and did not return. Clifford came into the game with two goals in the last three games. Desjardins said he thought the hit was not clean and hopes it will be reviewed by the league. … Quick is 2-2 with a 2.93 goals-against average and .932 save percentage since coming back from a knee injury. … This was the first of four meetings between Los Angeles and Vegas through Jan. 1.
Golden Knights: Host Dallas on Sunday.