WINNIPEG -- The Los Angeles Kings began their post-NHL Trade Deadline push toward the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 3-1 win against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.
After falling behind 1-0 in the second period, the Kings used goals from captain Dustin Brown and Mike Richards 3:30 apart to build a 2-1 lead. From there, the NHL's top-ranked defensive team shut down the Winnipeg attack and held the Jets to four third-period shots.
Alec Martinez scored a third-period power-play goal for the Kings (36-22-6), who outshot the Jets 41-17 in winning their sixth straight.
"I think we ran into the Kings at their best," Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said.
Comfortably positioned third in the Pacific Division, the Kings began a three-game trip with the addition of Marian Gaborik. The Kings acquired the wing Wednesday from the Columbus Blue Jackets in a trade for forward Matt Frattin and two draft picks. Kings coach Darryl Sutter placed Gaborik on the left side of the top line with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams.
Before their win streak, the Kings had been on a 1-8-1 slide.
"It was important for us to get on top of it," Brown said of the Kings' situation. "Our team is capable of it. It's just a matter of doing the right things, and it's going to take everyone. That's what has happened so far and what needs to continue to happen."
Winnipeg (30-27-7) is fighting to stay in Stanley Cup Playoff contention. The Dallas Stars' 6-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks pushed the Jets three points behind the Stars for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Dallas holds a game in hand.
"[Los Angeles is] tight defensively, so simplifying is the way to go against them," Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. "You've got to try to throw everything at them and create off of that. We probably didn't do enough of that, but we've got to find a way to get past this game and look forward to Saturday [at home against the Ottawa Senators]."
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick started his fourth consecutive game and stopped 16 shots. Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec made his fourth start in a row and had 38 saves.
Brown scored his 12th goal of the season, and Richards picked up his ninth, his second in three games. Richards had one goal in a 36-game span before ending his drought last week.
Los Angeles held Winnipeg without a shot for a 17:48 span that stretched the first and second periods. In the final two periods, Winnipeg managed 10 shots against a defense that began the game first in the NHL at 2.06 goals-against per game and third at 26.6 shots-against per game.
"[The Kings] will take your game and frustrate you to the point that you start to change what you're trying to do, because nothing is given easily," Maurice said. "… We held on to [the puck] for just a half-second [too long], and it wasn't sharp and it wasn't fast.
"We started to do so many more things with our feet not moving, and that's just the kiss of death against them. By the time the decision gets made and the puck is moved, they've set their defense from the position where they can just jump on you, and that's what happened."
The Jets did crack the defense for a 1-0 lead 12:03 into the second period. Kane won a race with Kings defenseman Drew Doughty to a loose puck in the corner and directed a pass into the slot, where Jokinen lifted it over Quick.
Brown tied the game 42 seconds later when he took Jarret Stoll's cross-slot feed and tipped it under Pavelec with 7:15 left.
Richards made it 2-1 when he jumped on a turnover by Winnipeg defenseman Tobias Enstrom before skating into the offensive zone and sending a high shot over Pavelec's glove with 3:45 to go.
Martinez sealed the win with his sixth goal, a shot short-side past Pavelec with 4:09 remaining in the game.
Gaborik took notice of the Kings' commitment to defense.
"I think that everyone is playing their position," he said. "Five [players] up, five [players] back. We have great goaltending, and everybody is trying to help out. We have a fast team. Our transition is very good."
Gaborik, who has six goals in 23 games this season, has reached 30 goals seven times and topped 40 three times. The 32-year-old can add offensive firepower to a team that is 27th in the League in goals per game. Brown compared Gaborik's arrival to the February 2012 acquisition of forward Jeff Carter that helped push the Kings to their first Stanley Cup.
"It's not necessarily that [an acquisition like Gaborik is] going to score all of the goals," Brown said. "It's the fact that other teams have to worry about those guys, and then other guys can find mismatches, whether it's playing against fifth and sixth defensemen and third lines. They have to pick their poison. It makes it harder for teams to distribute their talent or shut those guys down."
The Jets also learned something about the Kings.
"That's a good team with a good system," Pavelec said. "They don't give you much. They play the same way all the time, and that's the reason they won the Cup. They showed us how to play the game.
"I think it's one of the best teams. They played the game they wanted. They deserved to win."
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