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Kings hit the break and stop their slide

In its last game before the Olympics, L.A. gets a 2-1 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets when Robyn Regehr scores 2:33 into overtime.

February 06, 2014|By Kevin Baxter

The Kings honored their six Olympians on Thursday, inviting them to take one more trip around the Staples Center ice before leaving for Sochi and next week's tournament.

But all six had to put in a little extra work on their way out the door. And that led to a nice parting gift, with defenseman Robyn Regehr scoring in overtime to end a four-game losing streak and give the Kings a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Regehr's goal, on a rising shot from just off the left circle at 2 minutes 33 seconds, also gave the Kings their fourth win in six overtime periods this season. It was Regehr's first career overtime goal and just his second score of the season, both against Columbus.

The Olympic delegation was scheduled to leave Saturday on an NHL charter for Russia, where Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter will play for Canada, Jonathan Quick and Dustin Brown for the U.S., Anze Kopitar for Slovenia and Slava Voynov for Russia. Kings equipment manager Darren Granger, who will work with the Canadian team, will leave on an earlier flight.

For Doughty, whose first appearance for Canada in international play came seven years ago as a junior, pulling on the national team sweater never gets old.

"It's an honor," said Doughty, who won a gold medal in Vancouver four years ago. "You're so proud to wear the maple leaf — especially being a Canadian kid. Hockey is the No. 1 sport there. All everyone ever dreams of is being an NHL hockey player. And of course playing for Team Canada."

The Kings go into the 19-day Olympic break with something they haven't had for a while — momentum — since the win Thursday was just their second in 11 games and sixth in 22 tries dating back to before Christmas.

And Kopitar is hoping the time away will give the players time to "turn off our brains a little bit … and come back stronger."

"Our schedule was pretty packed lately with some travel," Kopitar said. "The break's going to come [in] pretty handy for our team just to recuperate and regenerate."

Doughty, who said he wasn't going to think about the Olympics until after the game Thursday, wasn't so sure.

"I don't know if it comes at a good time or not," he said of the break. "Maybe it will be good to get a reset. But at the same time we're losing games. We need to get more work in. Practice would help."

So would learning how to count. The Kings were penalized twice for having too many men on the ice in a ragged first period in which they managed only two shots on goal.

And those weren't even the most costly mistakes. As they did Monday in a 5-3 loss to Chicago, the Kings dug themselves an early hole after Tyler Toffoli was sent off for hooking 64 seconds into the game. Moments later, former King Jack Johnson made it 1-0 with a wrister from the top of the right faceoff circle.

But that was the only score allowed by Quick, who turned back the next 23 shots he faced. That allowed the Kings, who had the correct number of players on the ice throughout a scoreless second period, to fight back and tie the score early in the third when Jake Muzzin — assisted by Olympians Kopitar and Doughty — scored with both teams skating a man down.

The Kings didn't do nearly as well with a man advantage, though, failing to convert six power-play chances, leaving them with two goals in their last 36 chances with an extra attacker.

With the Kings dominating for long stretches of the second and third periods as well as overtime, Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky, one of four Russian Olympians with the Blue Jackets, was tested often, making 18 often-challenging saves.

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

Twitter: @kbaxter11

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