Kings 4, Sharks 0.

The Kings did not so much as steal a win Saturday, as they did dominate in such a fashion that makes you wonder why they can’t win every night.

After converting their first two power plays of the game –amazing what that can do for a team –the Kings were able to do what they do best: Play conservative, defensive hockey and give Jonathan Quick a fairly easy path to a 34-save shutout.

Drew Doughty was the offensive catalyst, scoring two goals and assisting on the other two, and tying a franchise record for most points in a playoff game by a defenseman. Paul Coffey was the first Kings defenseman with four points in a playoff game.

“It was a very big win coming into this building in game 2,” Kings head coach Terry Murray said. “We were a little short with key players out of the line-up. That requires a really competitive attitude by everyone that’s playing. Guys have to really dig in and play hard for each other and I think that’s the competitive spirit that our team has shown many, many times over the last few years.”

With Jarret Stoll serving a one-game suspension for his Game 1 hit on Ian White (who was replaced in the Sharks’ lineup by Niclas Wallin), Oscar Moller and Trevor Lewis were the primary beneficiaries of the minutes at center. Moller played 10:37, finishing plus-1, while Lewis played 17 minutes.

Kyle Clifford and Jack Johnson each had a goal and an assist for the KIngs, who were outshot 34-23.

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Kings 3, Edmonton 1.

The Kings found a way to get a win, and a point in a fourth straight game, against an Edmonton Oilers team that left no excuse for a letdown.

Ryan Smyth was credited with two goals after replays showed enough evidence that his wooden stick got a piece of two deep Drew Doughty blasts. Jack Johnson had the other goal, and Jonathan Quick turned in an acrobatic (if not technically perfect) 32-save effort.

Whether this was a notable turning point for the offensively challenged Kings, or merely a solid road win against a bad team, will be revealed over the course of the nine straight road games that await.

For now, it’s worth noting that the Kings had to come from behind after a Magnus Paajarvi goal gave the Oilers (15-27-8) a 1-0 lead at 3:21 of the second period. They did so on the strength of a previously weak power play.

Smyth answered with his first goal 24 seconds later – five seconds into a power play – and scored again on the Kings’ next power play at 9:47, sliding across Nikolai Khabibulin’s field of vision as Doughty released a shot.

The Kings finished 2-for-4 on the power play after going 1-for-28 with the man advantage in their previous 10 games. Doughty finished with two primary assists and Johnson had two secondary assists, along with his deep blast past Khabibulin at 14:52 of the third period.

Edmonton went without a power-play goal in five chances against the Kings, falling to 3-for-26 on the man advantage in its last six games. Before that, the Oilers did not score a power-play goal in 11 games. It was the type of game the Kings were hoping for, if not expecting.

A few more notes:
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Minnesota 1, Kings 0, SO.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard’s second-round shootout goal against Jonathan Bernier was the only puck that crossed the goal line in 65-plus minutes of hockey in St. Paul.

Bouchard’s backhand, five-hole beauty came immediately after Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom kicked up his leg — from his belly — to stop Jack Johnson’s shot on the other end. Backstrom stopped Dustin Brown in the third round to seal the win and send the Kings (27-22-2) to their first shootout loss all season.

Bernier was hardly to blame. He got some help from a goal frame en route to a 25-save performance, but made some timely saves and was able to swallow up the big rebounds when he needed to.

That was the encouraging part, along with another typical stingy defensive performance by the Kings, who have a point in four straight games. The Kings will play four back-to-back games this month (beginning tomorrow night in Edmonton), which means Bernier figures to be called upon often.

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Jack Johnson interview

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I had Jack Johnson on the phone for a few minutes and got to ask a few questions about the upcoming season. The main reason for the call was a little Hockey News feature about players who did something interesting during the summer. In Johnson’s case, that meant resuming his education at the University of Michigan. Johnson took an upper-level writing class, an American literature class, an American culture class and a psychology class and got an A in each class. Johnson said he intends to take classes every summer until he gets his degree (academically, he’s halfway through his junior year right now) and said he might look into taking some online courses during the season.

Here’s what Johnson had to say about some topics relevant to the upcoming season…
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Player evaluation: Johnson

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JACK JOHNSON

This season: 74 games, 3 goals, 8 assists, minus-19 rating.

Positives: Came into the NHL with tremendous hype that was almost impossible to live up to, but still managed a solid rookie season, particularly for a player who had never taken a shift above the college level unti late last season. Johnson clearly has the size, skating ability and physical instincts to be an impact defenseman, and he showed that at times this season.

Negatives: Again, expectations were high. Johnson was hyped as a Calder Trophy favorite heading into the season and never really came close to reaching that level. He admitted, late in the season, that not until the final month (before his broken foot) did he start to feel totally comfortable on the ice. The offensive instincts he showed at Michigan still need to emerge at the NHL level.

Looking ahead: There’s certainly no hand-wringing among Kings management about Johnson. He’s still considered a future franchise defenseman and he’s starting to develop the type of leadership skills that could make him a team captain one day. With expected development, he should take a major step forward next season.

Contract situation: Signed through 2008-09 (cap number of $2.15 million next season).

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Team award winners

Announced during the game by the Kings:

AS VOTED BY THE MEDIA
Most Valuable Player: Anze Kopitar
“Bill Libby Memorial Award” for Best Newcomer: Jack Johnson
“Mark Bavis Memorial Award” for Outstanding Defenseman: Jack Johnson
Defensive Player: Patrick O’Sullivan

AS VOTED BY THE KINGS PLAYERS
Most Inspirational Player: Dustin Brown
“Ace Bailey Memorial Award” for Unsung Hero: Jeff Giuliano

AS SELECTED BY THE KINGS CARE FOUNDATION
Community Service: Derek Armstrong

AS SELECTED BY THE KINGS BOOSTER CLUB
Most Popular Player: Dustin Brown

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