WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets added two points in the standings and one forward to their depth chart as they continued their playoff push on Sunday.
The Jets announced a trade for forward Lee Stempniak in the waning moments of their 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings in a battle between two teams fighting for Western Conference playoff berths.
The trade sent forward Carl Klingberg to the New York Rangers in exchange for Stempniak, a veteran of 690 NHL games.
Stempniak is the fourth player that Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has added to his roster in the last three weeks.
“To add more depth to our lineup is huge, especially coming down the stretch and in the playoffs,” said Andrew Ladd, who scored twice against the Kings Sunday. “(Stempniak is) just another solid NHLer. Obviously another good two-way guy that can make plays and plays a really solid game.”
The Jets also got goals from a pair of recent acquisitions, Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers, and held the defending Stanley Cup champions to 20 shots on goal in one of their more complete showings of the season. Blake Wheeler added an empty-net goal.
Jeff Carter scored both Los Angeles goals, as the Kings dropped a third consecutive game on the heels of an eight-game winning streak.
“We’re comfortable with the style that we play and have a good understanding of what we need to do to win those hockey games,” Ladd said. “We head into every game knowing we can beat any team and that’s our expectation.”
The Jets (32-20-12) have earned points in 10 of their last 12 games and have a three-point lead on Minnesota for the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
“The last six periods have been pretty darn close to the way we want to look,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice, looking back to the team’s shootout loss to St. Louis on Thursday.
The Kings (29-21-12) remain in a precarious position, tied with Calgary for third in the Pacific Division.
“It wasn’t even close, to be honest with you,” said Carter, when asked about the Kings’ effort. “We need to get going. We’re in a tight race, and every game for us is a playoff game. We need to get our level up. We haven’t been playing well enough, that’s the bottom line.”
Martin Jones replaced Jonathan Quick to start the third period after the Kings’ top goalie allowed four goals on 21 shots.
Michael Hutchinson made 18 saves for the Jets. His toughest save came off Jordan Nolan on a first-period breakaway.
PHOTO GALLERY: The Winnipeg Jets take on the Los Angeles Kings on March 3rd
“I thought we played another great game,” Hutchinson said. “We picked up right where we left off the other night. We wanted to show we can play with these guys. They’ve had a lot of playoff success and it was a playoff-style game for us.”
The game was decided by a three-goal second-period outburst by the Jets after Carter had tied the game. Myers made it 2-1 when he walked around Dustin Brown at the point, bided his time, and beat Quick from the right faceoff dot at 10:43.
“The offensive parts, we’re excited about,” Maurice said of Myers, who came to Winnipeg from Buffalo along with Stafford on Feb. 11. “The game turns on that goal.”
Notes: Hutchinson made his sixth start in the last seven games for the Jets, and improved to 5-0-3 in his last eight. … Quick allowed only six goals in his previous six starts before the rough outing in Winnipeg. He had started 17 consecutive games prior to sitting out Friday night’s game in Anaheim. … Wheeler returned to the Jets’ lineup after missing two games with a lower-body injury.