March 28, 2014

After each victory, Alec Martinez and Milan Lucic find each other on the ice, gather themselves, leap off their skates and bump chests. Then they do it again.

"Two chest bumps for two points," Martinez explained.

The Los Angeles Kings certainly are having more fun than last season, when they became the first defending Stanley Cup champions in eight years to miss the playoffs. They're sitting comfortably atop the Pacific Division and seek a sixth consecutive win as they continue their road trip against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night.

Martinez scored in overtime of Game 5 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final to give the Kings their second title in three years, but Los Angeles finished two points out of the Western Conference postseason in 2014-15 to become just the fifth defending champ in the expansion era to watch the playoffs from home.

The Kings (18-8-1) have moved past that disappointment, though, and are nearly halfway to the 40 wins they had last season. Lucic and Martinez assisted on Jeff Carter's tying goal with 1:27 left in regulation Tuesday, then Martinez scored in overtime as Los Angeles began a six-game trip with a 3-2 win over Columbus.

It improved to 5-0 in OT and is 1-1 in shootouts after suffering 15 defeats past regulation last season, when Lucic was still with Boston. He came over in an offseason trade and has 10 goals and eight assists.

Oh, and 36 chest bumps.

"I don't think it's stopping any time soon," Martinez said. "It's just a testament to Looch. Just a microcosm of how much we've benefited as a team with his addition."

Lucic scored twice and Jake Muzzin added a goal and two assists in Saturday's 5-3 win over Pittsburgh (15-10-2), which returns home after completing a 2-2-0 road trip.

Beau Bennett scored two of the Penguins' three third-period goals Wednesday to lift them to a 4-2 win over Colorado. Patric Hornqvist had the other and Olli Maatta finished with two assists for Pittsburgh, which was playing for the first time since Pascal Dupuis announced he won't return to hockey because of health concerns related to blood clots.

''It's great to win with the boys,'' Bennett said. ''We just have to continue and go on a little bit of a streak here.''

Bennett in particular was more aggressive, tying his season high with six shots on goal after not recording more than three in any of his previous 18. Coach Mike Johnston also was impressed with Bennett's physical nature.

"Beau was good," Johnston said. "I don't know how many hits he had, but Beau, when he's competing, his skills will start to take over and he got some open ice."

Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves and allowed fewer than three goals three times on the trip, with the exception being the loss to the Kings. Fleury had shut them out in each of his two prior matchups and went 6-2-0 with a 1.70 goals-against average in his previous eight career starts against Los Angeles.

Jonathan Quick has a 1.52 GAA while starting each game during the Kings' current 6-0-1 stretch. He had to make only 17 saves to beat Pittsburgh last week as the Kings outshot the Penguins 37-20.

Despite that win, Quick is just 2-2-3 with a 2.61 GAA in his career against Pittsburgh.

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