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Kings flash past Lightning for fourth win in row

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LOS ANGELES -- Though the Los Angeles Kings were hard hit by injuries over the past month, they continue to climb the Western Conference standings.

With goaltender Jonathan Quick and right winger Jeff Carter out, the Kings are riding their organizational depth to an impressive stretch.

Center Anze Kopitar and right wingers Justin Williams and Matt Frattin each had a goal and an assist Tuesday as the Kings defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 at Staples Center.

The victory was Los Angeles' fourth in a row, and the Kings (15-6-1) moved into a tie for third in the West with three other teams at 31 points.

Kopitar continued his strong early-season play for Los Angeles, emerging as the team's most valuable player through the season's first quarter. He has five goals and five assists in his last 10 games, and his plus-9 rating shows he is becoming a force defensively as well.

"I said it after the game in New York, Anze is a dominant player in the NHL," Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said.

Los Angeles won for the sixth time in seven games to move within one point of the Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks with a game in hand. While splitting the season series with Tampa Bay, the Kings won for the eighth time in 11 games on home ice.

The Kings' Oct. 15 loss in Tampa wasn't forgotten.

"They whipped our butts 5-1 in their arena," Williams said. "We tried to repay the favor, that's something you don't forget."

Los Angeles took an insurmountable 4-0 lead when left winger Dwight King scored a short-handed goal at 15:08 of the second period. King scored his career-high seventh goal by tipping the puck past Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop after rookie center Linden Vey gained possession deep in the Lightning zone.

Playing without perennial All-Star center Steven Stamkos for the fourth consecutive game, the Lightning (14-7-0) could do little offensively in the game's first half, managing only eight shots on goal.

Los Angeles opened the scoring at 14:58 of the first period when Kopitar snapped a shot past Bishop for his sixth goal of the season off a drop pass from defenseman Drew Doughty.

The Kings doubled the margin on the power play when Frattin deflected a shot by defenseman Slava Voynov at 16:49 of the first period. It was only the second goal of the year for the struggling Los Angeles winger.

Williams lengthened the lead with his team-best seventh goal on the power play goal at 2:38 of the middle frame. Williams was credited with the goal after Tampa Bay center Alex Killorn accidently kick the puck in his own net.

After King's goal, goals by Tampa Bay center Valtteri Filppula and Kings left winger Dustin Brown followed in quick succession. Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman rounded out the scoring with the only goal of the third period.

Bishop said his team's failure to sustain a good start was difference.

"I thought the first 10 minutes we played great," he said. "We were getting pucks deep and we were playing well. They got a lucky bounce there to end the first, and they got a lucky bounce to end the second."

Tampa Bay lost consecutive games for the first time this season.

Lightning right winger Martin St. Louis thought the difference in the game was his team's failure to execute its game plan.

"Sometimes hard work is overlooked over execution," said St. Louis, who was appearing in his 1,000th career game. "Execution is just as important, working hard is a given."

Kings goalie Ben Scrivens made 19 saves. His scoreless streak ended at 191:19 when Filppula beat him on a rebound with the man advantage for his ninth goal of the season.

Bishop stopped 26 of Los Angeles' 31 shots.

NOTES: Of Tampa Bay RW Martin St. Louis' 1,000 NHL games, 931 of them came in a Lightning uniform. He started his career with the Calgary Flames in 1998. ... Tuesday's game was the Lightning's first visit to Staples Center since Nov. 4, 2010. ... Entering the contest, Tampa Bay's penalty kill killed off 45 of the 49 power-play opportunities over 15 games. The Lightning limited the Kings to 1-of-5 success on the man-advantage Tuesday. ... Kings G Ben Scrivens was named the NHL's First Star of The Week on Monday. Scrivens will be counted on heavily with starting G Jonathan Quick out due to a Grade 2 groin strain that could sideline him through the end of the year. ... The Kings started a nine-game, 18-day stretch contested inside the Pacific time zone. ... Kings LW Dwight King, who has seven goals this season, entered 2013-14 with nine career goals over three NHL campaigns.
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