Jets outpace Quick with late strikes to topple Kings
Winnipeg surges into 2nd place in Central Division
The Winnipeg Jets have figured out ways to prevent their losses from lingering this season.
The Los Angeles Kings are in a two-week funk, and it finally knocked them out of first place in the Pacific Division.
Adam Lowry and Patrik Laine scored in the Jets' fifth victory in six games, 2-1 over the slumping Kings on Wednesday night.
Steve Mason made 38 saves during his first start since Nov. 11 as the surprising Jets opened a three-game California swing with the first regulation road victory over the Kings in the history of a franchise that began as the Atlanta Thrashers.
With a bounce-back victory after a loss in Nashville two days earlier, Winnipeg has surged into second place in the Central Division with nine victories in 12 games overall. The Jets have taken back-to-back losses only once since the first two games of the season, and their resilience was on display throughout a defence-dominated win in LA.
"We know how they play, and we had to be ready for that," said Nikolaj Ehlers, who set up Laine's goal with a beautiful pass. "We came out with a plan, and we succeeded."
Mason picked up his second victory of the season in a stellar return from a prolonged break while Connor Hellebuyck manned the Jets' crease. The veteran goalie even got an assist on Lowry's opening goal.
"Early on, I was able to feel the puck, so that was good for me after being off a week and a half," Mason said. "It was important to feel a little rhythm and then just push that forward to the rest of the game."
Tyler Toffoli tipped home a power-play goal early in the third period for the Kings, who have lost six of seven. The expansion Vegas Golden Knights won in Anaheim and surged into first place in the Pacific in front of the Kings (12-8-2), who got off to a 9-1-1 start.
Jonathan Quick stopped 25 shots, but the low-scoring Kings lost for the sixth time in their last seven games at Staples Center, undoing much of the good feeling from a strong start under new coach John Stevens.
"That's what happens when you don't play a full game," captain Anze Kopitar said. "It's usually good enough to lose by one. ... We've got to stop the bleeding, turn the ship around and get her going again."