LOS ANGELES -- The Kings had not scored on a two-man advantage in five previous tries prior to Friday. Mike Richards made sure they wouldn't squander a sixth chance.
And by the time he found the net against a sprawling Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets early in the third period, the Kings had taken control of their second straight win -- a 2-1 victory over the Blue Jackets at Staples Center, and Richards had the 400th point of his career and the Blue Jackets six-game road trip was off to a rocky start.
There were more than 18 minutes remaining after Richards put the Kings up 2-0 -- plenty of time for Columbus to mount a comeback -- but in a sluggish game in which clean looks and goals were tougher to come by than tickets to the Grammy Awards, Richards created the necessary distance between the Kings and the Blue Jackets.
That's because the Kings continually sidestepped danger against the Columbus power play, killing off four opportunities, including three straight in the second period.
Credit Kings goalie Jonathan Bernie the most as he won his second straight game in place of Kings' starting goalie Jonathan Quick.
Quick is fine health-wise, but he has sat the past two games as the Kings have leaned on the hot goalie.
Bernier was brilliant in his first start, Monday against St. Louis, giving up just one goal while facing 22 shots. And while he wasn't imposed upon nearly as much against Columbus, he remained steady and poised behind the Kings smothering defense and together they frustrated the struggling Blue Jackets.
Nick Foligno scored the Blue Jackets only goal with 2:25 remaining, and the Kings held off one last Columbus push over the final two minutes for their second straight win.
Clifford accounted for the only scoring through a sluggish first two periods, firing an unassisted goal past Mason to put Los Angeles ahead, 1-0.
It was only the second goal of the year for the defensive minded left winger and just the 13th over a three-year career.
But in a tightly contested game in which shots and goals were at a premium, Clifford's goal had the feel of a game-winner.
"Our game plan early on was to come in, be physical and put them back on their skates," Clifford said.
Aside from Clifford's goal, everything else was tough to come by, including shots.
The Blue Jackets had three straight power plays in the second period but had nothing to show for it other than one shot on goal.
The Kings weren't much better offensively, their opportunities limited to two power-play shots and 15 shots overall through the first two periods.
All but Clifford's shot were turned away by Mason.
Notes: The 24-year-old Bernier had made just one appearance prior to Monday, relieving Quick early in the first period Feb 2. against Anaheim. ... The Kings hit the road again to play three of their next four games, but after that they return to Staples Center to play 13 of 16. ... Prior to the game, the Blue Jackets activated defenseman Adrian Aucoin from the injured list. The 39-year-old Aucoin was signed as a free agent this summer and had missed the last six games with a lower body injury. ... Columbus right winger Cam Atkinson was not expected to play against the Kings with a high ankle sprain but is hopeful of seeing action at some point on the Blue Jackets' current six-game road trip.