Clifford's goal the difference in Kings' win over Lightning
Tampa, FL – Kyle Clifford scored the eventual game-winner 1, at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Anze Kopitar and Dustin Penner also scored for the Kings, who got 24 saves from Jonathan Quick in the victory to snap a two-game skid.
Steven Stamkos notched his league-leading 35th goal for the Lightning and Dwayne Roloson stopped 17-of-20 shots in a losing effort. The Lightning have now lost two of their last three contests after winning five straight.
Clifford's game-winner came at 10:16 of the second period as a result of a blown coverage by the Lightning.
With the puck deep in their defensive zone, Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi warded off some pressure and spotted Clifford coming out of the penalty box. Scuderi sent a home run pass up the middle of the ice right to the tape of Clifford, who went in alone on Roloson and backhanded it through the legs of the Lightning netminder.
"I knew he was coming out of the box, but it was more of an area pass than anything," Scuderi said of his great pass. "Cliff [Clifford] did the rest. He was real smart, by going to the middle of the ice. I kind of threw it out there, but I think it was mostly him getting under it."
The Kings extended their lead to 3-1 at 17:46 of the second frame when Mike Richards warded off his defender behind the net, wheeled out front and found Penner, who ripped a quick wrist shot past Roloson.
Tampa pulled Roloson with a minute remaining in regulation, but was unable to generate any good scoring chances.
Los Angeles opened the scoring just 2:47 into the game when Justin Williams ripped a slap shot from the right point right to the tape of Kopitar, who cleverly deflected the puck over the left pad of Roloson.
The Lightning tied it up at 7:49 of the second period with some excellent play off the rush.
Teddy Purcell pushed the puck out to the neutral zone and raced up the left wing. He gained the blue line and went in on a 2-on-1 rush with Stamkos. Purcell glided to the left circle before sliding the puck over to Stamkos, who converted an easy tap-in for the goal.
"They're a very opportunistic team," Roloson said. "They tighten down in the defensive zone and don't have any openings at all in their zone."
The Kings improved to 11-4-6 under head coach Darryl Sutter, and 19-4-5 when scoring the first goal of the game...Kopitar has 11 points in his last 12 games...The Kings failed to convert on two power-play chances, while the Lightning went 0-for-3 with the man advantage...Los Angeles improved to 15-2-4 when Richards records at least one point...Tampa Bay will visit the New York Rangers on Thursday, while the Kings will face the Florida Panthers, also on Thursday.