LOS ANGELES -- They were trying to catch Jeff Carter.
Eventually you suspected that Boston Bruins were going to pull even and pass the Los Angeles Kings' goal-scoring leader. Carter outshot the Bruins by himself in the first period and stayed within range in the second in the Kings' 4-2 win Thursday night at Staples Center.
The victory, the second for the Kings in the last eight games, helped erase some of the negativity generated by the shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
This was the third game back for Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who had been out since Nov. 12 because of a strained groin.
He has won twice, lost in a shootout and his game was particularly sharp when it needed to be against Boston, as he faced 22 shots. His goals-against average in these three games is 1.30.
"We knew we had to win the third (period) if we wanted to have a chance to win this game," Kings center Jarret Stoll said in his TV interview after the game. "We knew they would come with a big push."
Then there was the subplot of Carter's shot total vs. the Bruins, which was more of a diversionary thing but interesting nonetheless. It even had him trending for a spell.
Carter had the game's first goal at 10 minutes 32 seconds of the first -- his 16th of the season -- and outshot the Bruins, 6-5, in the opening 20 minutes.
After 40 minutes, Boston was outshooting Carter, 12-9.
Carter finished with 10 shots on goal, two shy of his career high, which happened in 2007 at Boston when he was with the Philadelphia Flyers. The other Kings' goals came from forward Justin Williams (his 14th), defenseman Alec Martinez (fourth) and captain Dustin Brown (ninth).
Williams was playing in his 800th NHL game and his power-play goal, from the right circle just 44 seconds into the second period, came with Doug Hamilton in the penalty box for interference.
About a minute later, the Kings scored again, shortly after the faceoff, via a slick passing play, finished off by Martinez from the point to make it 3-0. That was it for Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who faced 18 shots.
Coming in for Rask was Chad Johnson. His last win was Dec. 12 at Edmonton and he had played in relief of Rask on Dec. 28.
Boston's goals did not come from its stars. Rather it was Matt Fraser (second of the season) scoring at 9:55 of the second period, and rookie Justin Florek with his first NHL goal, cutting the Kings' lead to 4-2 with 2:13 left in the game.
"I think we controlled the play and we controlled the faceoff dot," said Stoll, who had one assist. "We got the puck moving. We were great in our own zone. We needed to be.
"(Quick) was there when he needed to be and we got those timely goals which we didn't get last game in here."
Johnson faced 17 shots and didn't allow a goal until there was 7:37 remaining. Brown, on a two-on-one, opted to take the shot and beat Johnson over the pad on the far side.
But Carter was the one who managed to get the Kings jump-started.
They've had problems offensively, of late.
This was the first time they've scored four goals in a game since beating the San Jose Sharks, 4-1, on Dec. 19 in what was perhaps their most complete performance of the season.
Carter scored in that game and more recently, he has recorded goals in two of the last three games and has 16 points in the last 14 games. His first-period goal against the Bruins was a byproduct of chemistry with his linemate, center Anze Kopitar.
That, and a whiff by Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk in his own end, which Kopitar jumped on and capitalized to set up Carter.
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