LOS ANGELES, Calif. – After the Los Angeles Kings finally won their first shootout since mid-October, their other feats and failures in the previous 65 minutes seemed puny in comparison.
The defending Stanley Cup champions managed to earn a second point after their late comeback against the powerful Montreal Canadiens, and it just might give them a shot to do even bigger things down the stretch.
Marian Gaborik’s second power-play goal tied it with 45 seconds left in regulation, and he scored again in the shootout as the Kings rallied for a 4-3 victory Thursday night.
Jeff Carter also scored in regulation and the shootout, and Anze Kopitar scored in the fourth round before Lars Eller put a shot off the post to end Los Angeles’ second shootout victory in eight tries this season, including seven straight losses.
The Kings hadn’t won a shootout since Oct. 16 against St. Louis, but Gaborik led them to two much-needed points in an unlikely fashion. Kopitar is the first player other than Gaborik or Carter to score in a shootout all season.
“There was a sense of confidence when we went into the shootout that we could do it, and we did,” Gaborik said.
The Kings have won 10 of 13 overall, staying even with Calgary in third place in the Pacific Division.
Max Pacioretty scored in the third period and again in the shootout for the Canadiens, who rallied from an early two-goal deficit with goals from Tom Gilbert and Brendan Gallagher 94 seconds apart in the second period.
After Pacioretty’s 31st goal put the Canadiens ahead, the Kings awoke during a 6-on-4 advantage in the final seconds. Gaborik came out from behind the net and put a low shot around Carter’s big screen.
“I was of the mindset to try to jump out and go to the net and create something, and it went in,” Gaborik said.
Montreal still rebounded from back-to-back losses in California with its first point on a four-game West Coast trip. The Canadiens have lost three straight games for the first time since early December, but are still one point ahead of the New York Islanders for the Eastern Conference’s best record.
“There was definitely a little bit more intensity in this one,” Gallagher said. “We were very disappointed in ourselves after the first period, but we showed some character and battled back. There wasn’t much said (after the first period). This team is just a group that understands what’s expected.”
Dustin Tokarski made 26 saves in a rare start in place of Carey Price. David Desharnais and Pacioretty tied it with consecutive shootout goals for Montreal, but Eller couldn’t even it.
“We’ve got a lot of character in this group, and we showed a lot of it battling back,” Tokarski said. “We just fell a little bit short.”
Jonathan Quick stopped 15 shots for the Kings, who nearly hurt their playoff chances by wasting a 2-0 lead and a dominant performance in the first 30 minutes.
“If we were able to bear down on our opportunities like they did and pop one or two more in there, then we don’t need the heroics late in the game,” defenceman Jake Muzzin said.
The Kings went ahead early on an exceptional redirect by Gaborik, who had his back to the net when he managed to put Brayden McNabb’s off-target shot past Tokarski for his 18th goal. Kings captain Dustin Brown then threaded a pass to Carter for the power forward’s fourth goal in three games.
The Canadiens got rolling with a surprising goal from Gilbert, a defence-first blueliner who walked the puck in from the boards for his third goal of the season. Gallagher then buried a backhand for his 18th goal.
NOTES: Pacioretty hadn’t scored a goal in his last three games, but hasn’t gone four games without a goal in 2015. … Montreal scratched D Sergei Gonchar, with Mike Weaver taking his spot. … The Kings beat Montreal twice last season for their first victories over the Canadiens since the 2003-04 season. … Carter played in his 700th NHL game and his 200th with Los Angeles.