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Jokinen leads Penguins past struggling Kings, 4-1
All that proves to Bylsma is that his Penguins are awfully good.
Jussi Jokinen had a goal and two assists in the first period, Evgeni Malkin scored in the opening minute, and Pittsburgh chased Quick early in a 4-1 victory over the struggling Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
Chris Kunitz and Tanner Glass both scored in their second straight game for the Penguins, who opened a two-game West Coast road trip with the franchise’s first regulation victory at Staples Center. Former Kings farmhand Jeff Zatkoff made 30 saves in the Eastern Conference leaders’ fourth win in five games.
Quick didn’t exactly make a stellar argument to Bylsma for the starting job in Sochi, giving up three goals on the Penguins’ first five shots before Martin Jones replaced him for the final two periods. Quick is competing with Detroit’s Jimmy Howard and Buffalo’s Ryan Miller, who was beaten 3-0 by the Penguins on Monday.
Quick was hurt by the NHL’s best power play: Kunitz scored his career-high 27th goal on a two-man advantage, and Jokinen added his 16th moments later. Quick has started 13 of the Kings‘ 14 games since returning from a 24-game injury absence.
“If you give any team a 5-on-3, they’re going to create chances,” Quick said. “They get one there, and then they get a 2-on-1 where they beat me over the shoulder. At that point, we’re not out of the game. We just couldn’t get it together enough to get a couple (of goals).”
Jokinen, a Finnish Olympian, had been in a three-game scoring drought in an otherwise stellar season. He credited this outburst to his mother’s rare chance to see him play live: Most of the Penguins’ mothers are traveling with the club on this short trip.
“I had a good first period, so I probably have to fly my mother here more than once a year,” Jokinen said.
The Kings had played their last eight games away from Staples Center, including last weekend’s “home” game at Dodger Stadium. They’ve got a four-game homestand heading into the Olympic break, but still haven’t solved their scoring woes.
“They are a high-powered team,” Los Angeles defenseman Matt Greene said. “It’s tough to come back when you aren’t scoring a lot of goals, and when you give up two on the penalty kill. It’s tough chasing in a game against a team like this.”
The Staples Center crowd gave a reasonably warm welcome to Pittsburgh defenseman Rob Scuderi, who anchored the Kings‘ defense during their Stanley Cup championship run in 2012 before leaving Los Angeles as a free agent last summer.
But the high-scoring Penguins decisively won their matchup against the NHL’s best defensive team, and they did it early. Just 53 seconds in, Jokinen made a spectacular no-look pass across the crowded crease to Malkin for his 15th goal.
By Tammy Bruce
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