The Los Angeles Kings came out of their eight-day break fresh and focused. They needed every last bit of attention, too, against the NHL's worst team.
Drew Doughty scored a power-play goal with 1 second remaining in the game, lifting the Kings to a 3-2 victory over the last-place Columbus Blue Jackets Wednesday night.
"I haven't really scored very many game-winners that came in overtime or with in the last minute (of regulation) to win the game, so it was a good feeling for me," said Doughty, who scored his first goal in nearly a month and fourth this season.
"It's tough to come back from a long break like that and get a win. Mentally, it was good for us to kind of get away, but it's hard to get back for that first game. We did an all right job in the first period, and we were a little slow in the second and third. But we got that first win and it's a huge momentum going on this road trip."
The Kings also got goals from Dustin Penner and Justin Williams to win their second straight. Jonathan Quick, the lone King to play in last weekend's All-Star game, picked up where he left off before the break, making 20 saves for his 22nd victory.
"After the extended break, the mentality in the dressing room was to throttle down right away," Williams said. "Our legs were pretty good. We had a couple good days of practice, and we had some good jump."
The Kings have won eight of their last 10 games against the Blue Jackets, who always seem to give them fits despite being the worst team in the NHL.
"I don't know what the reason is," Doughty said. "Maybe we take them too lightly going into the game. But we got the win, even though we didn't play our best, and that's a good thing. So we have a lot to look forward to when we do play our best."
With Samuel Pahlsson off for holding, the Kings went on the power play in the waning minutes. They appeared headed to overtime until Doughty controlled the loose puck and scored in front of the net, a rare third-period goal for the Kings, who have 33 this season.
"It was a great job on the power play, and the key to our success was getting those two on the power play," Doughty said, "and the penalty-killing was great, too."
The Blue Jackets complained that the clock briefly stopped with 1.8 seconds to go before it continued.
"It's tough for them to lose, so making excuses is normal," Doughty said. "But luckily there was enough time on the clock, and it counted."
Blue Jackets interim coach Todd Richards couldn't cite an official report, but he had his doubts about the clock.
"Watching the replay and talking with our producer who runs our show, the clock stopped at 1.8 seconds, and it stopped for 1.5 seconds, and they scored with 0.5 seconds," he said. "Something happened and it's really disappointing."
Columbus' Colton Gillies tied the game 2-2 with his first goal of the season on a rebound in front of the net at 4:52 of the third period. Derek Dorsett had the team's other goal early in the second.
Penner's goal was just his second in 22 games and fourth of the season, and it put the Kings back in front at 14:32 after the Blue Jackets failed to clear the puck out of their zone.
Williams gave Los Angeles its first lead on a power-play goal at 8:40 of the first. Doughty set up at the left point and passed to Williams, who scored between the legs of Columbus goalie Curtis Sanford.
Sanford stopped 30 shots for the injury-riddled Blue Jackets, who were coming off a 6-0 loss at San Jose on Tuesday and have dropped six in a row.
"Los Angeles is one of those teams that you know what you're going to get," Sanford said. "They keep themselves in every game they play and every game is a tight game. It seems like they're conditioning themselves to play playoff hockey, and that's the way the games have been played between the teams."
Notes: It the Kings' first win at the final horn since Feb. 11, 1999, when Josef Stumpel scored with 0.3 seconds left. ... The Blue Jackets have allowed 66 third-period goals. ... Having played a league-high 30 home games, the Kings head out for their annual six-game Grammy road trip starting Friday at St. Louis. ... Quick has allowed 11 goals in his last six starts. ... Williams has points in nine straight games. ... The teams split their first two meetings, with each winning on the road.