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Kings start, stop well in beating Minnesota Wild, 3-0

Justin Williams and Jeff Carter score early goals and Jonathan Bernier notches his first shutout of the season. Williams adds a goal in the second period.

April 04, 2013|By Lisa Dillman

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This now seems like some sort of payback for once-struggling Kings forward Justin Williams.

At least that was the verdict after Thursday night.

Williams went game after game — weeks, actually — without a goal in this lockout-shortened season and dutifully kept at it. Now the goals are coming, one after another, and he had his first multi-goal performance of the season, scoring twice in the Kings' 3-0 win against the Minnesota Wild as goalie Jonathan Bernier had his first shutout of the season.

Bernier, who faced 23 shots, recorded his sixth career shutout. For Williams, the goals were his ninth and 10th of the season, and put his goal-scoring game streak at five games, a career high. The other goal came from Jeff Carter, who scored his 21st of the season.

For Bernier, three of his six shutouts have been against the Wild. His two losses this season were when he entered a game in relief of starter Jonathan Quick.

"I guess I have a pretty good record against them," Bernier said. "It was actually a pretty easy game for me. Guys did an awesome job in front of me, blocking a lot of shots. When you get two quick goals like that, it definitely helps the goalie."

Said Williams: "He's been one of our best players. No doubt about that. He's come in and been ready every game and he's given us confidence as well. That's what goalies do. I don't think anybody's got a better tandem than we have right now."

And newly acquired defenseman Robyn Regehr, making his Kings debut, got the second assist on the second goal by Williams, at 3 minutes 52 seconds of the second period, forcing a turnover leading to the eventual goal. The Kings traded for Regehr on Monday in a deal with the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for two second-round draft choices.

Accumulating points is not his thing. His first point as a King was just his third assist of the season. "It must be the new number," Regehr said, in jest.

He said the first time he was hit helped calm him.

"It's always nice to get into a game by either giving a good hit or receiving a big hit," said Regehr, who was a plus-two and had six hits. "After that, you get into it. There's a little bit of nervous energy. It's been a very busy last couple of days and lots of stuff going on with getting to know new teammates."

Carter's goal forced Minnesota's starting goalie Niklas Backstrom from the game, a mere 3:07 into it. Backstrom gave up two goals on two shots and was replaced by Darcy Kuemper.

This was a far cry from the Wild that the Kings played on Saturday in St. Paul, where the Kings blew a 3-1 lead and ended up losing in a shootout.

What deflated the Wild was Williams in the opening minute and a half. He quickly got the crowd at Staples Center into it with his speed down the right wing, beating Backstrom with a shot from the edge of the right circle, at 1:29.

Williams stayed resolute when the goals weren't coming in the first month. He had one in the first 18 games and thought the recent turnaround started with, of all things, his empty-netter at St. Louis on March 28.

"Take a hit to score a goal, springboards you to better things, that's what it's done so far," he said.

But he felt as if he was contributing even during his goal-scoring drought.

"The most important thing to me was the way I was playing," he said.

"If I ended up with four goals all year, then I ended up with four goals all year. I just need to be contributing in other ways — being good in the defensive zone, getting pucks out and being a responsible player.... Now they seem to be going in a little bit more, and it feels good."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

Twitter: @reallisa

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