The Kings defeated the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 in a shootout Thursday night at Staples Center, ending their seven-game homestand at 3-4 and gaining some much needed confidence and momentum as they head out on a five-game road trip that starts in Detroit on Saturday.
The Red Wings also won Thursday and are one point behind the eighth-place Kings in the Western Conference standings.
At Staples Center, the Kings gave up goals early in both the second and third periods and there was another goal by the Kings that was disallowed. There were all kinds of reasons for the Kings to be discouraged, frustrated and to stop doing the things they'd been saying they needed to do to not only get back on track but also take a serious run at their first playoff appearance since 2002.
Ryan Smyth, who scored the tying goal in the third period, said Thursday was a big character win for the Kings, especially before a trip.
"We haven't had the best homestand, you know, and we dug in deep, overcame some difficult situations at times, but momentum was the key for us," Smyth said. "We kept at it, we kept playing relentless, getting pucks to the net and we got rewarded.
Dustin Brown, who scored the clinching goal in the shootout, agreed.
"We battled back from one-goal deficits twice, had a goal taken away and I think it's just a matter of when we play a hard, smart game with 20 guys we can accomplish a lot," he said.
"I think we showed a lot of hard work out there, and character. We just didn't let down," Kopitar said. "We were going at it and kept coming and coming and it paid off for us. It's a huge two points. We finished the homestand OK, not the record that we wanted, but we finished it off with a win and now we got to carry this momentum on the road."
Said O'Donnell: "Our motto tonight was good things are going to happen. A lot of things could have deflated us, but we kept coming back and we never stopped. It had a little bit of everything, the disallowed goal, the shootout. Tonight was a real good character win for us. We kept pushing forward, pushing forward and got rewarded with the win. And that was a real good shot in the arm for our team and it's going to be a big game Saturday."
One of the more exciting moments Thursday came when goalie Jonathan Quick lost his stick during a fray around the net. Quick-thinking Brown handed Quick his stick and the goalie made a save -- a nice one -- on a shot from the point by the Sabres.
"I like the curve on Brownie's stick," Quick said, laughing. " I was feeling it!"
Everyone in the room was feeling it Thursday night. The key will be continuing the good feeling, the good playing and the momentum, going into the big game in Detroit on Saturday.
Tom Murray covers hockey for ESPNLosAngeles.com.