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LOS ANGELES — It wasn’t a commanding performance but the Winnipeg Jets did more than enough here Monday night to lock up a couple of NHL points and increase their lead in the Central Division.
The Los Angeles Kings were no pushovers but just didn’t have the manpower to overtake the visiting Jets, who were at their miserly best in posting a 3-2 victory at Staples Center.
Up by a goal, Winnipeg didn’t yield a shot in the third period until the 16:50 mark when goalie Laurent Brossoit stopped a hard drive by Carl Grundstrom on a two-on-one break.
Winnipeg outshot the hosts 10-2 in the final frame, and 28-17 overall.
The Jets (43-25-4), winners of three straight and six of nine in March, own top spot in the Central and are three points up on the Nashville Predators with a game in hand.
L.A. (25-39-8) has lost three consecutive games and occupies the Western Conference basement.
The Jets resume a three-game road trip against Pacific Division teams Wednesday in Anaheim and finish up 24 hours later in Vegas.
Kevin Hayes and Kyle Connor scored first-period goals for the Jets, while Tyler Myers scored late in the middle period to snap a 2-2 tie with the Kings.
Kings winger Dustin Brown had knotted the game midway through the second period with a low drive that beat Brossoit low to the far side, with Jets blue-liner Sami Niku serving an interference penalty.
The Jets killed off an L.A. power play later in the period – an ill-advised trip by Patrik Laine in the offensive zone – and just seconds later Myers broke in on a two-one-one with the Finnish sniper and rifled a shot high over goalie Jack Campbell’s glove to regain the lead for the visitors.
Myers has nine goals on the year, equalling his best output in Winnipeg (2015-16) and just two shy of his career high of 11 set during his inaugural NHL season with the Buffalo Sabres (2009-10). He won the Calder Trophy that season as the NHL’s top rookie.
After half a period of tedium, the Jets’ second forward hit the scoresheet first. Connor’s wrap-around try didn’t work but Hayes stuffed in his 17th goal of the season – his third since coming over at the trade deadline from the New York Rangers – at the 11:32 mark.
Connor followed up the helper with his 28th tally of the year just 55 seconds later with the Kings a man short. Jacob Trouba, quarterbacking the power play with both Dustin Byfuglien and Josh Morrissey in sick bay, blasted a point shot that goalie Jack Campbell couldn’t squeeze and Connor swatted in the rebound.
But Kings defenceman Sean Walker cut the lead in half with just over five minutes left in the period, fooling Brossoit with shot that glanced off Jets winger Brandon Tanev’s stick.
There were some chippy moments in the contest, culminating with a fight in the final period between Kings forward Kyle Clifford and Jets blue-liner Nathan Beaulieu. Clifford scored a takedown and both skaters were assessed majors.
Assistant sports editor
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).