NEWARK, N.J. (AP)—When coach Terry Murray talks about his Los Angeles Kings these days, he doesn’t hesitate using the word character.
The Kings have it in abundance.
Wayne Simmonds(notes) and Drew Doughty(notes) scored in the final 1:46 and the Kings matched their longest winning streak since 2002 with their sixth straight victory, 3-2 over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday.
The rally capped the first 5-0 road trip in Kings’ history, and this one ended just the way the trip started—with Los Angeles coming back from a 2-0 deficit. Murray’s team beat Detroit 3-2 to begin the trip.
“This road trip has been pretty exciting,” Murray said. “You get five wins on the road at this time of the year with the desperation that everyone is playing with and it’s pretty remarkable the way we have dug in. This game was a real good look at the kind of team we are starting to become, a lot of character, big heart, never gave up.
“It looked at times it was slipping on us, but to dig in in the third period and find a way to get it done is tremendous.”
The Kings got it done because Simmonds scored from a seemingly impossible angle with a long backhander with 1:46 to play, and Doughty got the winner with a power-play goal with 27.3 seconds to play.
“It’s not like we are winning games on accident,” said U.S. Olympian Jonathan Quick(notes), who made 26 saves. “We’re sticking to the system and doing all the little things right. Everyone is contributing and sticking up for one another. You catch bounces and win games like that when you play like that.”
While Simmonds shot was from a bad angle, the Kings did the little things to set it up. Brad Richardson(notes) sealed off a Devils player and made the pass and Ryan Smyth(notes) provided a screen in front of goalie Martin Brodeur(notes).
“I came late off the bench and Richardson just hit me,” Simmonds said. “I saw Smitty and like he always, he parked himself in front of the net and I threw it at the net hoping he would get a tip or have a great screen. He did have a great screen and Brodeur pulled off the post a little and it just squeaked in.”
Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said goals like that happen when you are struggling.
“When the team is playing with confidence those things don’t happen,” Lemaire said.
“We had a couple of breakdowns and the puck was in our net,” said Brodeur, who made 19 saves.
Michal Handzus(notes) also scored to help the Kings, who have also won seven straight road games, one shy of the team record set in the 1974-75 season. The team record for overall wins is eight, set twice.
“It’s a confidence thing,” Brodeur said of the late letdowns. “We’re not playing as well. When you do well you do good things.”
Zajac, who scored the winner on a power play in overtime against Toronto, gave New Jersey a 2-0 lead 5:54 into the second period, beating Quick with a shot from the right faceoff circle after taking a cross-ice pass from Dainius Zubrus(notes).
It was a shot that Quick should have stopped.
Quick never had a chance on Oduya’s goal, which snapped a 26-game goal drought for the defenseman. Zach Parise(notes) made a cross-ice pass to Oduya, who was late joining the play, and his shot hit off the skate of Kings defenseman Jack Johnson(notes) and went past Quick, who was making his 50th start of the season.
The Kings had 10 shots in the second period and they didn’t find the back of the net until Handzus got his 12th goal of the season with 29 seconds left in the period. Scott Parse(notes) set up the goal with a pass from behind the net after Alexander Frolov(notes) helped keep the play alive by forcing Mike Mottau’s(notes) turnover.
“This is great, this shows our character,” Kings center Anze Kopitar(notes) said. “We’re not going to let down and quit. It was one of those game maybe we weren’t the better team, but at the end of the day, we’re the one taking two points.”
NOTES: Patrik Elias(notes), the captain of the Czech Republic Olympic team, missed his eighth straight game because of a concussion. … Johnson returned to the Kings’ lineup after sitting out Saturday against Boston with an arm injury. … Brodeur became the second goalie in NHL history to play in 15 or more games in consecutive months. Terry Sawchuk is the other, doing it in December-January 1954-55. … The matinee attracted a sellout crowd of 17,625.