LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sean Walker and Dustin Brown scored 51 seconds apart in the second period, and the Los Angeles Kings snapped the Vegas Golden Knights’ five-game winning streak with a 3-1 victory Sunday.
Cal Petersen made 41 saves and fell just short of his second career shutout as Los Angeles avenged the Knights’ 4-2 win at Staples Center on Friday with a strong all-around performance in a matinee ahead of a four-game road trip.
“This is huge, and I think it helps us confidence-wise that we can play at this level and beat those kinds of teams,” Petersen said. “I think this is one of our more complete games of the year, and so this should be a good indicator of what we can do and our potential.”
Despite eight losses in their last 12 games, the Kings are in fifth place in the West Division after a win that could build momentum. After falling behind by two goals early in the first game of the series, Los Angeles came out for the rematch with much-improved focus against its first-place opponent.
“It felt a little bit different on the bench tonight,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “The start the other night, I think we waited for something to happen. Tonight was different. We played a really good 40 minutes, and we knew their push was coming. They’re a top team in the league for a reason, and you get a lot of momentum when you’re playing in the other team’s zone, but I thought we responded to it.”
Tomas Nosek scored for the Golden Knights to end Petersen’s shutout bid with 3:27 to play, but Jeff Carter scored a breakaway goal 55 seconds later to seal the Kings’ first win over Vegas this season.
“The start was definitely better, and obviously you want to maybe focus on it a little bit more, because it’s an afternoon game,” said Los Angeles captain Anze Kopitar, who had two assists. “I thought we did a pretty good job starting the game and then just kept rolling to eventually get the first goal and get the two-goal lead.”
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 shots, but Vegas lost for only the third time in 14 games.
After a scoreless first period, Walker put the Kings ahead with his first goal of the season, shoving the puck under Fleury during a prolonged scrum at the edge of the crease. The stay-at-home defenseman hadn’t scored a goal since Feb. 12, 2020.
Vegas handed a power play to the Kings by unsuccessfully challenging Walker’s score for goalie interference, and Brown cashed in moments later from close range for his 14th goal of another solid season.
“That second period, we just weren’t sharp enough, and that’s coaches included,” Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said. “Poor challenge by us, and it cost us a goal. They won a lot of the battles in the second period, which really set the game up. I still thought we had a chance in the third.”
The Knights had a two-man advantage for 91 seconds early in the third period after a questionable delay-of-game call against Drew Doughty, but the Kings killed it all.
Vegas sharply increased its offensive pressure in the third, and Nosek scored when Petersen got only a piece of his hard shot with the glove. Carter restored the lead with a clever breakaway goal set up by a head-man pass from Andreas Athanasiou.
The Kings lost defenseman Olli Maatta in the first period to an upper-body injury.
The Knights played without second-leading scorer Max Pacioretty, who has a lower-body injury.
“We took 16 goals out of our lineup,” leading scorer Mark Stone said. “It’s not easy. We’re not the only team that’s going through injuries. Condensed schedule, guys are going to miss a game or two here and there. Guys have got to step up. Can’t just have one or two guys going every night.”
Before the game, Kings defenseman Matt Roy agreed to a three-year, $9.45 million contract extension. The former seventh-round pick has played his way into a regular role in Los Angeles over 120 games, recording seven assists in 25 games this season.
“He deserves every little bit of it,” McLellan said. “We have a ton of confidence in him. I think he feels comfortable here with the group, and he’ll have a chance to get even more comfortable. With the reward comes more responsibility. That’s part of the league, and we will expect more from him.”