The term "character win" has been thrown around frequently over the last few weeks. And the Los Angeles King's 5-4 shootout victory over the Colorado Avalanche certainly fits the bill for a character win.
Even with the caveat that Colorado is missing several key players. Erasing a two-goal deficit against the reigning Stanley Cup champions is impressive.
The Kings started well with Gabe Vilardi scoring for the second straight game and ended the first up 1-0.
The Avalanche hit back early in the second period with a J.T. Compher power-play goal, but the Kings answered back with a power-play tally of their own off the stick of Phil Danault.
The second went downhill quickly from there, as Cale Makar took the game over. Makar grabbed three points on three Avalanche goals, including two fantastic solo efforts, giving his team a two-goal heading into the third period.
This is a situation the Kings would have crumbled in six weeks ago. That Kings team would have capitulated and lost by four or five goals. Instead, they fought back and hit the Avalanche with a quick goal to start the third period.
Alex Iafallo continued his solid play since moving into Trevor Moore's spot and scored on the power play. Then, with six minutes remaining, Sean Walker buried a chance in the slot to tie the game at four.
The Kings found themselves in trouble with 2:47 remaining after Walker took an interference penalty. They needed a timely kill from a penalty kill that has struggled all season. But, as several have pointed out recently, they've gotten timely kills recently. Be it in overtime or late in a tight game, they've come up big when it matters most. And they did so again Thursday.
"The overall response was a big thing," McLellan said of his team's third period. "Getting the power play early and capitalizing obviously gave us some life. From there we had to check our way, open the game up a little bit, check our way through a couple more chances and then a big penalty kill at the end so give the guys credit. We weren't, obviously, real good in the second period. I thought we cheated an awful lot and against a team like that, they make you pay every time you try. We fixed some of that in the third period.
In overtime, the two teams traded blows but couldn't solve each other.
Viktor Arvidsson and Adrian Kempe both scored for the Kings while Pheonix Copley shut the door on both Colorado shooters to earn his team two points.
This was also Quinton Byfield's second game back with the team and he clearly impressed McLellan. In the third, Byfield was moved into Kevin Fiala's spot on the top line after a shaky two periods from Fiala. Despite not registering a point, Byfield had a hand in both power-play goals for the Kings.
"I just came out for the third period and they said I was up on that line," said Byfield. "I just wanted to prove it, playing with those two guys I just wanted to get them the puck and get open and create space for them. It was definitely an adjustment for me but it was a lot of fun being there."
It was on the Iafallo power-play tally he made the biggest impact. After a pass down low to Arvidsson missed its mark, Byfield pounced on Devon Toews to regain possession and six seconds later LA scored.
Byfield played with a pace and urgency that was missing Tuesday and was rewarded for it.
Arvidsson now leads the Kings in primary assists with 17 and has five points in his last two games.
Blake Lizotte has five points in his last five games.
Copley is now tied for the team lead in wins with eight despite playing the fewest games amongst King's goalies.