OK, so this is just an updated version of Thursday night’s early Kings-Wild game story, but there’s new stuff toward the bottom, including a good quote from winger Justin Williams, who has become something of a go-to guy lately for the Kings. Enjoy. …
Justin Williams skated along the right wing early in the Kings’ 3-0 homecoming victory over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night at Staples Center. Head down, legs churning, arms pumping, he carried the puck a long way before anyone noticed him.
Williams unleashed an uncontested shot from the right faceoff circle that hit the back of the night only 1 minute, 29 seconds into the game.
Or so it seemed less than two minutes later, when Jeff Carter made a similar lonely trip down right wing to score the Kings’ second goal and force the Wild into a goaltending change after two shots beat Niklas Backstrom after only 3:07 had been played.
So much for any thoughts of a letdown after the Kings returned from a five-game trip with a 3-1-1 record. The Kings found their legs worked just fine in the opening minutes, with no hint of lethargy in their first game at home since a 1-0 loss March 23 to the Vancouver Canucks.
First-period leads usually mean victories for the Kings, who are 15-1-2 when scoring first.
The Kings kept skating purposefully in the second period, too.
Williams slipped behind the Wild’s defense, catching them in a line change and accepting an alert breakout pass from teammate Anze Kopitar. Williams whistled a shot past Darcy Kuemper, Backstrom’s replacement, to extend the Kings’ lead to 3-0 only 3:52 into the second period.
Williams extended his scoring streak to five consecutive games, a career high. Until recently, goals were tough to come by for Williams, who has 10 in 37 games. He’s scored six times in his five-game streak and that’s given him a reason to keep shooting.
“Now that I see pucks going in the net, I’m a little bit more confident,” Williams said. “I think the most important thing was the way I was playing important to me. Hey, if I ended up with four goals all year, then I ended up with four goals all year.
“I just needed to be contributing in other ways.”