Surging Jets slip by slumping Kings
LOS ANGELES — The Winnipeg Jets continued their strong play at the expense of the Los Angeles Kings, who continue to flounder after a strong start to the season.
Adam Lowry and Patrik Laine registered goals, and Steve Mason made 38 saves as the Jets defeated the Kings 2-1 on Wednesday night.
Winnipeg (13-5-3) won for the fifth time in six games and evened its record to 1-1-0 on a four-game road trip. Mason improved his career record against Los Angeles to 8-7-1.
Los Angeles (12-8-2) lost its second straight and sixth in its past seven games. Tyler Toffoli scored the lone Kings goal. Jonathan Quick made 25 saves.
With his team entering the game ranked seventh in the league in offense, Jets coach Paul Maurice gave full credit to Mason on a night when the Jets created few chances.
“I don’t think we gave him any help early in the season,” Maurice said. “He tried to play that game in our first two games of the year, but it didn’t happen for him. Since then, he’s just been really good. We need that now with our schedule. This month is our toughest month of the year. We’re on the road a lot, on and off of the airplane. We need both of our goalies to play well.”
Mason, who has been cast in the backup role due to the strong play of Connor Hellebuyck, knows the importance of staying sharp mentally while playing infrequently.
“You might think you feel good, but as soon as the game rolls around, everything happens that much faster,” Mason said. “It is a mental grind to tell yourself that you’ve put the work in and just to focus on stopping the puck. At the end of the day, that’s all you have to do.”
Los Angeles continues to struggle on offense in November. Aside from their 4-0 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday afternoon, they have not scored more than two goals in the past seven games, and their record fell to 3-6-1 this month.
Kings coach John Stevens has resisted shifting the lineup throughout the losing but may have no other options to shake his team out of its current underachieving state.
“You have to be better or you have to be different,” Stevens said. “We are not going to throw out all the good things we have done earlier this season.”
There is no sense of panic from Los Angeles center Anze Kopitar, who said the current standings mean little and is focused on the importance of producing full efforts going forward.
“We’ve got to stop the bleeding, turn the ship around and get her going again,” Kopitar said. “Right now, we’re going to have to win a 2-1 game and really get our checking game in order. Honestly, I think our offense tonight didn’t score as many goals, but we were creating a lot of shots. Again, we can’t give up goals like we did tonight.”
The Kings drew within 2-1 on Toffoli’s power-play goal at 5:26 of the third period. Oscar Fantenberg, after taking a pass from Kopitar, made a pass from above the top of the faceoff circle and found Toffoli’s stick for a deflection past Mason.
Los Angeles had two power plays after the Toffoli goal but could not solve Mason for the equalizer. Mason made a pad save on Tanner Pearson from the slot with Quick pulled for an extra skater.
Mason kept Los Angeles off the board through 40 minutes, making 27 saves. His best save was a point-blank stop on Fantenberg off a cross-ice feed from Adrian Kempe during a power play midway through the second period.
Winnipeg took a 1-0 lead on Lowry’s third goal of the season at 19:52 of the first period. Lowry gained possession of the puck in the slot and pivoted for a backhand shot that Quick did not track, leaving the entire left side of the cage open for the score. Andrew Copp and Mason registered assists.
The Jets extended their lead to 2-0 on Laine’s power play goal at 19:01 of the second period. With Dustin Brown in the box for slashing, Nikolaj Ehlers’ position behind the net caused Kings defenseman Drew Doughty to leave Laine open in front of Quick. Doughty slammed home a short feed, with Mathieu Perreault earning the secondary assist.
NOTES: Winnipeg scratched D Tucker Poolman, C Shawn Matthias and C Marko Dano. ... The Jets continue their four-game road trip against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday. ... Winnipeg G Steve Mason made his first start in five games. His previous appearance was in a 4-1 victory at Arizona on Nov. 11. ... Los Angeles did not dress D Christian Folin and C Brooks Laich. ... The Kings hit the road for a Black Friday contest against the Arizona Coyotes before returning home on Saturday to face the Ducks. ... Los Angeles C Adrian Kempe has struggled to find the net while filling in for the injured Jeff Carter, registering one goal in his past 11 games.