LOS ANGELES--Forget the Gordie Howe hat trick of last season.
In many ways, what forward Kyle Clifford did against the San Jose Sharks in Saturday's 5-2 win by the Los Angeles Kings was more impressive than his homage to Howe nearly 14 months ago against Ottawa.
Then? Goal, assist and fight, a clear Howe hat trick.
Now? Two goals, an exhausting scrap against behemoth defenseman Douglas Murray and a superb defensive play against Joe Pavleski at Staples Center. That play to help shut down Pavelski came shortly before Clifford's second goal of the game to make it 4-1 at 13 minutes 45 seconds of the second period.
You almost wondered whether Clifford was going to go lift cars in the parking lot afterward. Or maybe he was going to down a big steak like he did after winning a bet against former teammate Kevin Westgarth last season in regard to the Howe hat trick.
Certainly, something special should be in order after his second-period fight against the intimidating 6-foot-3 Murray, as Clifford gave up about 33 pounds to Murray.
He managed to survive the long bout with his body parts intact.
This game didn't solely belong to Clifford, who recorded the first multi-goal game of his career. In all, there were 12 Kings players with at least one point. Scoring the other Kings goals were Justin Williams, Jarret Stoll and Dwight King, who has two goals in his last two games.
Goalie Jonathan Bernier, who came in relief of Jonathan Quick on Thursday in the Kings' loss at San Jose, got his sixth victory of the season and stopped a penalty shot at an especially pivotal time.
San Jose had the chance to get right back in it, trailing, 2-1, when Tommy Wingels was awarded a penalty shot at 7:58 in an eventful second period but was stopped by Bernier, who made a glove save.
The penalty-shot opportunity came after Wingels' clear scoring attempt had been thwarted by forward Tyler Toffoli, who was making his NHL debut. Toffoli slashed at him and broke Wingels' stick blade.
Bernier has faced two penalty shots in his career and has stopped both.
"If a goal went the other way, it could be a different period," said Kings forward Trevor Lewis, had two assists. "But we bounced back. Stayed strong and kept going to the net."
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