LOS ANGELES (AP) — After just six games under coach John Tortorella, the Columbus Blue Jackets are already looking tougher, smarter and more resilient.
Not even a full period without a shot on goal against a first-place opponent can cause these new Jackets to flinch.
Brandon Dubinsky had a goal and an assist and Columbus overcame a shotless second period to hold off the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 Thursday night.
Cam Atkinson and Gregory Campbell also scored for the last-place Blue Jackets in their fourth victory of Tortorella’s brief tenure, which began after coach Todd Richards was fired last month. Columbus had no shots in the second period, a first in franchise history, but still surged into a finish that made Tortorella proud.
“It’s the beginning of an identity,” Tortorella said. “What we’re striving for is an identity, and I thought it was a good step in trying to play the right way.”
Sergei Bobrovsky made 31 saves to help the last-place Blue Jackets win their second straight West Coast road game while handing the Kings just their second loss in 10 games. Columbus played tough during a physical game against the rough-and-tumble Kings, but also gave a responsible third-period effort.
“We definitely needed a new attitude, and I think guys are coming around,” forward Scott Hartnell said. “We’re a confident group, but we’ve got to keep that confidence.”
After routing San Jose on Tuesday, Columbus will go for a three-game California sweep at Anaheim on Friday night.
The teams stoked their long-simmering mutual distaste with several fights and skirmishes throughout the night at the sold-out Staples Center. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick even went after Hartnell when the Columbus forward hacked at his glove with the puck underneath it, setting off a fracas.
Those pugnacious moments impressed Tortorella, no surprise given his reputation for enjoying a little confrontation every now and again.
“I liked the spirit of the team,” Tortorella said. “They fought for one another. If someone was in trouble, they jumped in.”
Alec Martinez scored a power-play goal for the Kings, who opened a five-game homestand with a clunker. Los Angeles’ four-game home winning streak ended, as did its five-game winning streak against Columbus at Staples Center.
“When you hold a team to eight shots in the first two periods and you’re still down, I think you’re not doing a good job in the scoring areas and bearing down when you get them,” Kings forward Milan Lucic said. “It definitely wasn’t our best effort from how we’ve been playing as of late. Hopefully we can learn from something like this, no matter who your opponent is.”
Jeff Carter scored with 59 seconds to play for the Kings while Quick was pulled for an extra attacker, but Los Angeles couldn’t get the equalizer. Quick stopped 22 shots during his first loss to Columbus in seven decisions.
“We’re a better team than we showed here tonight,” said Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin, who thought Columbus was mostly responsible for the chippiness. “I don’t think they had the start they want, so maybe there’s some frustration and stuff building up.”
Dubinsky pushed Columbus ahead late in the first period when Nick Foligno’s shot deflected in off his shin.
The Kings didn’t allow a shot in a period for just the second time in a regular-season game and just the third time overall in the franchise’s 3,890 games — but they also didn’t score in the second.
The Blue Jackets reclaimed momentum in the third, and Campbell got his first goal of the season.
Notes: Kings C Anze Kopitar played after leaving their last game at St. Louis early following a hit to the head from Ryan Reaves, who was fined. … The Kings held St. Louis without a shot in a period on April 5, 1978. They also held the Anaheim Ducks without a shot during a period in a playoff game May 10, 2014. … Los Angeles acquired Carter and Marian Gaborik from Columbus in midseason trades during recent Stanley Cup championship years. Carter moved in 2011-12, and Gaborik in 2013-14.