The Los Angeles Kings returned home from a five-game road trip to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1 Friday at Staples Center. After losing three of their first four games on the road trip, the Kings have now won two consecutive games, after also beating the St. Louis Blues on Monday.
Forwards Kyle Clifford and Mike Richards scored for Los Angeles, who improves to 5-5-2 on the season with Friday's win.
Goaltender Jonathan Bernier started his second consecutive game for the Kings (his first two starts of the season), stopping 12 of Columbus' 13 shots on goal. Bernier is now 2-0-0 on the year, allowing just two goals combined over his first two starts.
Kyle Clifford broke a scoreless tie late in the second period, after forcing a turnover and putting a wrist shot past Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky with 1:20 remaining in the middle frame. Clifford's unassisted goal was his second of the season, and his seventh point of 2013, moving him halfway to the career high of 14 points he recorded during his 2010-11 rookie season.
Mike Richards put the Kings ahead 2-0 with a 5 on 3 power-play goal at 1:34 of the third period. The goal was Richards' second of the season, with Anze Kopitar and Bernier earning the assists.
The Blue Jackets finally broke through with a late goal from forward Nick Foligno. With 2:25 remaining in the game, Foligno batted a loose rebound past Bernier, earning his second goal of the season. Former Kings defenseman Jack Johnson and forward Brandon Dubinsky were given the assists on Columbus' only goal of the night.
The Blue Jackets would make things interesting late in the third period after pulling Bobrovsky for an extra attacker, but the Kings would hold on and escape with a one-goal victory.
Friday's game marked Johnson's first in Los Angeles since the Kings shipped him to Columbus in exchange for forward Jeff Carter last February. Coming into the game, Johnson led the entire NHL in average ice at 28:07 per game, while Kings defenseman Drew Doughty entered second at 27:38 per contest. The assist was Johnson's sixth point (1 goal, 5 assists) of the season.
After finishing with the worst record in hockey last season, the Blue Jackets are again dwelling in the cellar of the NHL standings. Friday's loss drops Columbus to 4-8-2 on the season, with just 10 points through 14 games.
Following the one-game home stand, Los Angeles will now head back out on the road for three more games away from Staples Center. The Kings will play next in Chicago against the Blackhawks on Sunday at 12:30 PM PST.
The Blackhawks have yet to lose in regulation this season, and currently hold the NHL's best record at 11-0-3, with 25 points in 14 games. The two teams faced each other in the season opener back on Jan. 19, with the Blackhawks beating the Kings 5-2.
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