LA Kings Phillip Danault

Photo Credit: Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images

Adrian Kempe played the overtime hero in Montreal on Tuesday to extend the LA Kings’ winning streak to six games.

Things sure can change fast in the NHL.

Less than two weeks ago, the LA Kings appeared to be an injury-riddled mess whose season was going off the rails before it even began.

Now, they might be the hottest team in the league. Adrian Kempe scored the overtime winner against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre on Tuesday to give the Kings a 3-2 victory, their sixth consecutive win.

Here are some of our thoughts from the win.

1. Danault’s return

Phillip Danault left the Canadiens to sign a six-year, $33-million contract with the Kings as an unrestricted free agent this past offseason. Tuesday marked the first time he returned to Montreal as a visitor.

Some Kings fans seemed angry and confused at the reception Danault got at the Bell Centre. He received some cheers when his name was announced in the starting lineup before the game, then got booed every time he touched the puck. He then received a great ovation when a video tribute was played at the first commercial break before Habs fans resumed booing him at every opportunity the rest of the night.

Kings fans don’t need to be upset at the reception Danault received, though. As a born-and-raised Quebecer who played six seasons in the bleu, blanc et rouge, he understands the Montreal fan base as well as anybody. He saw other prominent former Habs such as P.K. Subban and Max Pacioretty return to similar receptions while still playing there. And ultimately, he understands that it was a sign of respect.

The fans in Montreal gave Danault his moment. They showed him their appreciation and respect for what he did there. And then, they reminded him that he was the enemy on this night. They wouldn’t boo you if you didn’t matter.

Danault had a great chance to score a goal against his old team in the second period but got robbed by Jake Allen.

His return then almost had a nightmare ending, as Danault took a holding penalty with just over two minutes remaining in the third period with the score tied 2-2. But the Kings killed it off, setting the stage for Kempe’s overtime heroics.

2. Kempe stays hot

Kempe has been nothing if not streaky throughout his career, but when he’s hot, he’s hot. And the good news for the Kings is that he’s hot right now. He made a great move to get around Jake Evans in overtime, then showed off some excellent hands to beat Allen and extend LA’s win streak.

After recording just one goal and one assist in LA’s first eight games of the season, Kempe is now riding a four-game goal streak (albeit with his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday being scored into an empty net) and has six points in his last five games. He’s undoubtedly benefited from being promoted to the top line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown in the absence of Viktor Arvidsson. Still, he deserves credit in his own right for what he’s doing right now.

How long will he keep it up? Who knows. The Kings have learned to ride with the ebbs and flows of Kempe, and they’ll enjoy this while it lasts.

3. Petersen stands tall

There was somewhat of an expectation that Cal Petersen would become LA’s clear-cut No. 1 goalie this season, especially after the team signed him to a three-year, $15-million contract extension in September.

Jonathan Quick hasn’t been willing to give up the crease he’s owned for so long that easily, though. So far this season, Quick has been looking better than he has in years. This means Petersen’s going to have to earn his playing time as well. And after a strong performance by Quick in Monday’s win in Toronto, Petersen responded with a quality start of his own in Montreal on Tuesday.

Petersen finished the night with 33 saves on 35 shots. In particular, he made some huge saves late in regulation after the Canadiens tied things up to make sure the game got to overtime and the Kings would get at least one point. He then made some huge saves in OT, helping LA weather the storm as Montreal controlled the play for much of the extra frame before Kempe could win it.

The two of them playing well and pushing each other is the best-case scenario for the Kings. So far, that’s how things have been playing out.

Up next for the Kings, they’ll look to make it seven wins in a row when they visit the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

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