Jeff Carter - LA Kings
March 5, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Jeff Carter (77) celebrates his goal scored against the Montreal Canadiens during the first period at Staples Center. Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES – Marian Gaborik brought a must-win mentality to the Kings clash with the Canadiens on Thursday night. Gaborik scored two power-play goals and a third in the shootout to help the Kings rally to beat Montreal 4-3 and keep their playoff hopes alive in the Western Conference.

“We’re going into every game like it’s a ‘must-win’ game,” said Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin.

Gaborik, Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar all scored in the shootout before Canadiens center, Lars Eller’s final shot hit the post to seal the victory for the Kings at a sold out Staples Center. The Kings were 0-22 on their previous shootout attempts before tonight.

Ahead of the thrilling shootout finish, the Kings were less than a minute away from a devastating loss that would have dropped them further out of the postseason picture. Instead, Gaborik snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with his dramatic game-tying goal with 45 seconds left to play in regulation.

“We know what we need to do,” said Gaborik after the game. “We need to take it game by game and period after period. We know what our goal is and we have to keep climbing.”

The Kings last opportunity came with 1:33 remaining and a 6-on-4 advantage. Gaborik came around the back of the net and went around a Carter screen to send the game into extra time.

Los Angeles jumped on the visiting Montreal Canadiens in the first period for an early 2-0 lead, but the Habs scored three unanswered goals from there to give Montreal a 3-2 advantage heading into the waning minutes of the game.

“We started playing in the second period. We didn’t play well in the first, and then we played like a team,” said Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien. “I like the way we competed in the second and third. It was a pretty intense game.”

Max Pacioretty scored the go-ahead goal at the start of the third period, his 31st of the season, which ties him for 5th in the NHL. Pacioretty also scored in the shootout and now has a +/- of 36, which leads the league.

“We had that game in the bag and we were playing the right way,” said Pacioretty after the disappointing loss. “They’re a desperate team. We’ve got to find a way to choke teams out, and it is frustrating that we were not able to.”

Tom Gilbert and Brendan Gallagher also scored for the Habs who now have stretched their Eastern Conference lead to a point over the New York Islanders.

Gaborik started the scoring for the Kings in the first period after he redirected a Brayden McNabb slap shot past Canadiens goalie Dustin Tokarski to give Los Angeles the early lead. The Kings made it 2-0 just minutes later after Carter scored on a great give-and-go with Dustin Brown.

Similar to their first meeting with the Habs in Montreal back in December, the Kings outshot the Canadiens but still trailed for most of the game. The Kings had 29 shots on the evening compared to Montreal’s 18.

“Jonathan Quick is a great goaltender, but when you have five shots midway through the second period, it is not enough,” added Habs star P.K. Subban of the shot differential. “We did a good job of rallying back in the game and getting ourselves a point.”

Jonathan Quick stopped 15 shots, including 2 in the shootout, for his 27th win of the season. His counterpart, Tokarski, who made a rare start on the second of a back-to-back in place of Carey Price, made 26 saves for Montreal.

The defending Stanley Cup Champions have now won 10 of their last 13 games and kept pace in the Pacific Division with the Calgary Flames who also won 4-3 in a shootout against Boston. Both teams have 74 points as they compete for the 8th and final playoff spot in the West.

The Canadiens will be happy to leave California tomorrow after dropping three straight in the Golden State for the first time this year.

Game Notes:
Before the game Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille met with members of the media as his Staples Center statue will be unveiled on Saturday before the Kings face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Defenseman Sergei Gonchar did not play for Montreal. The game marked the 3,700th in LA Kings history.

© 2023 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.