WINNIPEG – Todd McLellan tipped his hat to one of his penalty killers Tuesday, but it wasn’t a Los Angeles Kings skater.
The head coach praised veteran goaltender Jonathan Quick, who foiled five Winnipeg Jets’ power plays in a 3-2 victory for the visitors at Bell MTS Place.
“We saw what we expect to see from him on a nightly basis,” McLellan said of Quick, who stopped 26 shots.
“The best penalty killer is the goaltender and I thought Quickie was that tonight.”
It was the Kings who capitalized on one of their four power plays when Anze Kopitar scored the game-winner with the man advantage at 5:52 of the third period.
Kopitar turned on the speed to get around Jets defenceman Josh Morrissey and took a backhand shot that bounced off goalie Connor Hellebuyck’s arm into the net.
Austin Wagner and Kurtis MacDermid also scored for the Kings (4-5-0), who were starting a four-game road trip and won their second straight game after losing the previous three.
“I don’t understand how the third (goal) goes in,” said Hellebuyck, who made 38 saves. “I played that perfectly in my book so, you know, I guess it’s just an unlucky night.”
Kyle Connor and Nikolaj Ehlers scored for Winnipeg (5-6-0), which wrapped up a five-game homestand going 1-4.
“We’re a little snake bit right now,” Jets captain Blake Wheeler said. “Maybe because of that we’re feeling a little bit sorry for ourselves.
“We’ve got a young team. I think not just the young players, but even the veteran guys, when it’s not bouncing our way and you’re in the fight, you’re in the fight and you just can’t seem to get it turned around.
“It’s certainly frustrating. That’s a pretty lame excuse, but it’s the truth.”
The teams were tied 1-1 after the first period and 2-2 following the second.
Hellebuyck kept it close in his busy opening period.
The Kings were outshooting the Jets 11-2 just over seven minutes into the game after Winnipeg took a pair of early penalties.
Wagner’s goal at 10:32 was off a Hellebuyck rebound into an open side of the net, but the netminder was distracted by the stick of teammate Dmitry Kulikov that got tangled in his mask.
Connor beat Quick with a high shot at 17:07 after a Kings’ turnover in their end. His fourth goal of the season was Winnipeg’s first five-on-five goal in 255 minutes and 20 seconds, dating back to Oct. 13.
The visitors outshot the Jets 21-5 in the first period and boosted the margin to 32-17 after the second.
“The team did a great job of just trying to prevent as much as possible because they’ve got some guys who can skate and shoot,” Quick said.
Los Angeles went ahead 2-1 at 4:16 of the second after a review of MacDermid’s shot determined the puck had crossed the goal line before Hellebuyck stopped it with his pad.
Ehlers tied it up after tipping in a point shot by Neal Pionk at 12:28.
Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice changed his top two lines during the second period, putting Ehlers up with centre Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine and moving Blake Wheeler alongside centre Bryan Little and Connor.
The Jets had three power plays in the second and another with 52 seconds left in the third.
Winnipeg plays the host Saturday in the Heritage Classic at Mosaic Stadium in Regina against the Calgary Flames. The Kings travel to St. Louis to play the Blues Thursday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 22, 2019.
© 2019 The Canadian Press