In a back-and-forth affair, the Los Angeles Kings showed resilience and character to beat the Calgary Flames 4-3.
After going down early, the Kings took over the first period, outshooting the Flames 10-3 and tying the game.
The tying goal was scored by Gabe Vilardi, his first goal in 10 games. And was assisted by Sean Walker who was back in the lineup after being scratched for two straight games. A common theme recently in Todd McLellan's media availability is being prepared for your opportunity when it comes. Both Vilardi and Walker were ready for their opportunity.
The second period was a tight-checking, defensive 20 minutes that saw no goals. It was the type of period the Kings would have crumbled in a month ago and shows their growth.
The third started perfectly for the Kings, with Phil Danault and Blake Lizotte scoring just 10 seconds apart less than two minutes into the period.
Lizotte had a great game, finishing with a goal and an assist.
"He (Lizotte) elevated his game," said Todd McLellan. "He was all over the rink, I thought physically he received, but he also gave back, and that's important. Good in the (faceoff) circle. His tenacity is hard to handle the size advantage doesn't always go to the bigger guy when you've got a little rat, I guess, for the lack of a better term, buzzing around all the time in your equipment and stripping pucks. He was a really effective player tonight."
Calgary started their comeback with a Tyler Toffoli power-play goal. Kevin Fiala had a chance to put the game away with a penalty shot but put the puck wide.
Calgary had all the momentum after the missed penalty shot, and their pressure eventually cracked the Kings' defense, tying the game with just under seven minutes left. The teams couldn't settle it in regulation and needed overtime.
After fighting off a few grade-A chances from Calgary, Adrian Kempe and Viktor Arvidsson found themselves on a two-on-one. After playing pitch and catch, Kempe deposited the return feed from Arvidsson to end the game.
"I caught a loose puck in the d-zone and knew I had Arvy (Arvidsson) on the two-on-one," said Kempe. "I tried to make a pass over the d-man early and then, obviously, I was expecting him to shoot but I was staying at the back post in case the puck ended up there. And Arvy made a great play back to me for an easy tap-in, so yeah, fun goal."
It was Pheonix Copley's fifth win in six games as he continues to put solid performances together in net. 27 saves, a .900 save percentage and 0.08 goals saved above expected is exactly what the Kings need from him. It's not amazing but it gets the job done.
McLellan was asked post-game if this was a character win from the Kings.
"I think that's fair," said McLellan. "I think that was a well-played game by both teams. That was tight checking, not a lot of space. The odd breakdown, but the goaltenders played well, special teams were dangerous on the power play, but the penalty kills played pretty good. Felt like a playoff game, that's what it felt like."
This win also ties the team's season-high of four straight wins. With three of the four on this current streak requiring extra hockey.
The Kings have a chance to make it five straight Friday in Arizona. In their last game before the holiday break.