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 clear shots were tougher to come by than tickets to the Grammy Awards, Richards created the necessary distance between the Kings and the Blue Jackets, who lost for the fourth time in five games.
That's because the Kings continually sidestepped danger against the Columbus power play, killing off four, including three in a row during the second period.
Credit Kings goalie Jonathan Bernie the most for that development, as he turned away 12 shots to win his second straight game in place of Kings starter Jonathan Quick. Quick is fine health-wise, but he's sat the last two games as the Kings have leaned on the hot goalie.
Bernier was brilliant in his first start, Monday against St. Louis, giving up 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.
"Our forwards did a great job of working in the offensive zone and all the way back to the defensive zone," Kings defenseman Davis Drewiske said."It's playing 200 feet of hockey"
Overall, Bernier has stopped 33 of 35 shots in his two starts.
"He's an awesome goaltender, we know that," Clifford said. "He did a great hob tonight, a great job in St. Louis, good for him."
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.
"We didn't have enough push back. We certainly didn't help ourselves," Columbus forward Brandon Dubinsky said. "We made some turnovers that made us spend too much time in our defensive zone."
Clifford accounted for the only scoring through a sluggish first two periods, firing an unassisted goal past Bobrovsky to put Los Angeles ahead 1-0.
It was only the second goal on the year for defensive-minded left winger and the 13th over a three-year career.
But in a tightly contested game in which shots and goals were at a premium, it 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. "And that's what we did."
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.
"Penalty kill is an area we're looking to improve on," Drewiske said. "It can be a big development for us moving forward."
The Kings weren't much better offensively, their opportunities limited to two power-play shots and 15 shots over all through the first two periods.
All but Clifford's shot were turned away by Bobrovsky until Richard's scored what turned out to be the game-winner on the two-man advantage to help give the Kings only their first win at home in regulation time.
"We came out a little flat but we picked it up pretty quick and we didn't give up a whole lot of chances," said Kings forward Anze Kopitar.
Former King Jack Johnson returned to Los Angeles for the first time since being traded to the Blue Jackets for Jeff Carter and a first-round pick last February.
Johnson, who finished with an assist, down played his return.
"I enjoy coming to California with my teammates and enjoying the weather, and there are some familiar faces around, a lot of friends who live here," he said. "But that's about it."
NOTES: The 24-year-old Bernier had made one appearance prior to Monday -- relieving Quick early in the first period Feb 2. against Anaheim -- but turned in an impressive performance in a 4-1 win over St. Louis to prompt another start. ... 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 did not play against the Kings with a high ankle sprain but is hopeful of seeing action at some point on the Blue Jackets' six-game road trip.