LOS ANGELES — After spending two games in street clothes, Steve Bernier was back in the New Jersey Devils lineup and on the power play.
The move paid off Jan. 14 against the Los Angeles Kings.
Bernier netted two goals with the man advantage, while playing on a line with Adam Henrique and Scott Gomez, and the Devils scored three times during a 68-second span of the second period in a 5-3 victory.
“It was a different line than I was used to playing on and it’s a different role,” said Bernier, whose power-play goals were his first in 120 games since March 30, 2013. “These two guys don’t play the same way, and it was a lot of fun to play with them.
“When you’re on the fourth line, it’s more dump-and-chase. But these guys want the puck on their stick and want to make plays.”
Martin Havlat, Michael Cammalleri and Michael Ryder also scored for New Jersey, and Cory Schneider made 23 saves. The Devils are 4-3-1 since General Manager Lou Lamoriello fired Peter DeBoer on Dec. 27 and went behind the bench with coaches Adam Oates and Scott Stevens.
“When your boss is in the room with you a lot, you’re on alert. You’ve got to play well and produce,” Schneider said. “He’s got a presence, and he was around a lot before he did this. But now he’s just trying to get a close-up look and see how things are operating under the hood.
“It hasn’t been wholesale changes. It’s been subtle things. Lou has been supportive and encouraging.”
The Kings’ goals were scored by Marian Gaborik, Justin Williams and captain Dustin Brown, who ended a 17-game drought. The defending Stanley Cup champions have played 20 consecutive games without being outshot, but are 8-7-5 during that stretch.
“We just need more effort and a willingness to get it done,” Kings defenseman Matt Greene said. “I’m speaking for myself, but that’s what has to get better. Everybody has to get better, but it starts with yourself. The coaches have been doing a good job of breaking it down for us every night. It’s just a matter of us showing up and doing it.”
It was the third meeting between the teams since the Kings beat the Devils in the 2012 Stanley Cup finals. New Jersey’s Jaromir Jagr and Tuomo Ruutu didn’t make the trip for the three-game West Coast swing because of the flu.
The Devils, 2-for-26 on the power play over their previous 10 games, opened the scoring on Bernier’s goal with 14 seconds left in the first period.
“I thought the key was us scoring right away,” Cammalleri said. “I think you’ve got to give some credit to Adam Oates for putting people in positions where they can succeed on the power play and working on some things that make it hard to defend.”
Los Angeles’ Martin Jones, making consecutive starts for the second time this season following a 19-save shutout over Toronto on Jan. 12, was pulled by coach Darryl Sutter at 9:20 of the second period after the Devils grabbed a 3-1 lead on their eighth shot.
Bernier was credited with another power-play goal after his intended pass to Cammalleri caromed into the net off the left skate of defenseman Drew Doughty. Havlat added his fourth of the season just 23 seconds later.
“Our penalty kill is just draining us,” Sutter said. “It takes so much out of your team. They score the goal at end of the first, then we come back and score, and then we give it up right away. It is really disappointing.”
The results were the same after Jones was replaced by Jonathan Quick. Cammalleri and Ryder scored on rebounds exactly 7 minutes apart to increase New Jersey’s lead to 5-1 at 17:05. It marked the eighth time this season that the Kings allowed at least five goals — something that happened only six times last season.
“I think all of our goals were a pretty much result of guys working hard to either keep the puck alive with a second or third effort, or to make the extra effort to get on the right side of somebody and compete,” Cammalleri said. “Sometimes, that’s what goal scoring is — a hunger and a compete level. Everybody feels a lot better once the puck starts going in.”