Jokinen leads Penguins past struggling Kings, 4-1
Los Angeles Kings defenseman Robyn Regehr, right, of Brazil, and Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz collide during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo)
Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, left, is scored on by Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Chris Kunitz as Penguins left wing Jussi Jokinen, right, of Finland, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo)
Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby celebrates a goal by left wing Jussi Jokinen, of Finland, during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings, Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jonathan Quick’s Olympic goaltending audition for U.S. national team coach Dan Bylsma ended after three Pittsburgh goals in one rocky period.
All that proves to Bylsma is that his Penguins are awfully good.
Jussi Jokinen had a goal and two assists in the first period, Evgeni Malkin scored in the opening minute, and Pittsburgh chased Quick early in a 4-1 victory over the struggling Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
Chris Kunitz and Tanner Glass both scored in their second straight game for the Penguins, who opened a two-game West Coast road trip with the franchise’s first regulation victory at Staples Center. Former Kings farmhand Jeff Zatkoff made 30 saves in the Eastern Conference leaders’ fourth win in five games.
Quick didn’t exactly make a stellar argument to Bylsma for the starting job in Sochi, giving up three goals on the Penguins’ first five shots before Martin Jones replaced him for the final two periods. Quick is competing with Detroit’s Jimmy Howard and Buffalo’s Ryan Miller, who was beaten 3-0 by the Penguins on Monday.
“It’s one game I get to see live, but ... I’ve seen a lot of him,” Bylsma said of Quick. “It’s not a good outing for him, but he’s got a body of work that’s more than just this game.”
Quick was hurt by the NHL’s best power play: Kunitz scored his career-high 27th goal on a two-man advantage, and Jokinen added his 16th moments later. Quick has started 13 of the Kings’ 14 games since returning from a 24-game injury absence.
“If you give any team a 5-on-3, they’re going to create chances,” Quick said. “They get one there, and then they get a 2-on-1 where they beat me over the shoulder. At that point, we’re not out of the game. We just couldn’t get it together enough to get a couple (of goals).”
Jokinen, a Finnish Olympian, had been in a three-game scoring drought in an otherwise stellar season. He credited this outburst to his mother’s rare chance to see him play live: Most of the Penguins’ mothers are traveling with the club on this short trip.
“I had a good first period, so I probably have to fly my mother here more than once a year,” Jokinen said.
Anze Kopitar scored his third goal in five games for the Kings, but those are the only goals scored in the last nine days by the Kings, who have lost seven of eight.
The Kings had played their last eight games away from Staples Center, including last weekend’s “home” game at Dodger Stadium. They’ve got a four-game homestand heading into the Olympic break, but still haven’t solved their scoring woes.
“They are a high-powered team,” Los Angeles defenseman Matt Greene said. “It’s tough to come back when you aren’t scoring a lot of goals, and when you give up two on the penalty kill. It’s tough chasing in a game against a team like this.”
The Staples Center crowd gave a reasonably warm welcome to Pittsburgh defenseman Rob Scuderi, who anchored the Kings’ defense during their Stanley Cup championship run in 2012 before leaving Los Angeles as a free agent last summer.
But the high-scoring Penguins decisively won their matchup against the NHL’s best defensive team, and they did it early. Just 53 seconds in, Jokinen made a spectacular no-look pass across the crowded crease to Malkin for his 15th goal.
Kopitar evened it with a rocket of a shot from the faceoff circle midway through the period for the 16th goal by Slovenia’s only NHL Olympian.
After Jarret Stoll and Dustin Brown were hit with penalties at the same time, Kunitz scored in front of Quick after tic-tac-toe passing from Jokinen and Sidney Crosby.
Jokinen put the Penguins up 3-1 just 57 seconds later, ripping a one-timer past Quick’s glove.
Glass beat Jones with a sharp-angled backhand late in the second period for his fourth goal.
“We were confident all along,” Glass said. “We had a great start. Our power play was awesome, and then we were stingy when we had to be.”