The Phoenix Coyotes finally had a chance to exhale after taking it in the solar plexus the first two games of the Western Conference finals.
That giddy feeling, and a 1-0 lead, lasted 2 minutes 7 seconds for those counting.
Dustin Brown spotted Anze Kopitar cruising up ice and a moment later the Kings had tied the score, 1-1. It was somewhat redundant. Brown, Kopitar and linemate Justin Williams have consistently done what the Kings ask of them — play like their top line.
Kopitar's goal was a turning point in a 2-1 victory in Game 3 at Staples Center on Thursday, shaking the Kings out of the doldrums immediately after the Coyotes had taken their first lead in the series.
"They got a lead and we squashed it right away," Williams said.
Phoenix's Daymond Langkow scored for a 1-0 lead 1:03 into the second period. Up to that point, the Kings seemed to be skating in tapioca.
Brown and Kopitar helped get them back up to speed. Brown picked up a lose puck at the Kings' blue line and Kopitar took off along the boards.
"I saw him right away," Brown said. "I took a step back and waited. He got behind their guy and I got the puck out in front of him."
The Coyotes had been controlling the game. After Kopitar's goal, the teams were on equal footing until Dwight King scored the game-winning goal early in the third period.
"Obviously, that was the biggest goal, but tying the game so fast was a big thing," defenseman Matt Greene said.
Even Phoenix's Shane Doan had to admire the moment.
"It was a great play by them," Doan said. "It gets them right back to where they were."
Greene has grown used to seeing the Brown-Kopitar-Williams act in spotlight moments — red-light ones.
"They've been unbelievable," Greene said. "It's been fun watching them. This is the time of the year you want your top line to perform."
The goal gave Kopitar points in six consecutive games. He has four goals and 10 points in that time. The assist gave Brown 10 points in the last seven games. He has seven goals and 15 points during that stretch.
Williams has six points in six games — two goals, four assists.
Scoring is what magnifies their play. Kopitar scored the first goal of the series, off a pass by Brown. The game-winner in that contest was scored by Brown in the third period.
"Goals are hard to come by in the playoffs," Brown said. "So to get one right after they scored changed the momentum. We've been able to do that a few times in the playoffs."
It's one of those little things, and Brown said, "If you're not trying to do the little things, then you're not even playing this time of year."
By the numbers
The Kings have won eight consecutive playoff games, having not lost since Game 4 against Vancouver on April 18. The NHL record for consecutive playoff victories is 11, last done by the Montreal Canadiens in 1993.
The Kings killed Phoenix's only power play Thursday, running their streak to 29 consecutive power plays without allowing a goal.
The Kings have outscored opponents, 37-17, in the playoffs.
Kings officials were unsure whether owner Philip Anschutz attended Thursday's game. But he is expected to be at Staples Center for Game 4 — the possible series clincher — Sunday.