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Kings' practice: Power play a powerful weapon; Jones will return on defense Wednesday in Game 4

The Kings held a full practice Tuesday in El Segundo, and most of the talk afterward centered on the astonishing power-play success that has helped them build a 2-1 series lead over the Vancouver Canucks in a playoff series that resumes Wednesday night at Staples Center.

As a team the Kings are seven for 12, an eye-popping 58.3% success rate. Putting defensemen Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson together on the first power-play unit has been the key to that extraordinary success: Johnson leads the NHL with four power-play assists and shares the lead in power play points with teammates Doughty and Michal Handzus. Overall in the series, Doughty has a goal and four assists and Johnson has five assists.

They've played together before but never with results like this. Part of it is the Canucks' poor penalty killing, which has given both defensemen ample time and space to get off their booming shots, and part of it is a maturation on their part.

"With Jack and Drew in particular, I think the experience that they’ve gone through four or five times together as a pair, five on five for a series of games has certainly paid off for them," Coach Terry Murray said. "They’re starting to read off each other much better. I’m seeing a lot more enthusiasm when good things happen. They’re celebrating now when goals are getting scored. They’re tapping each other on the pads. They’re playing hard for each other now.

"Maybe a little bit in the early part of the season it was trying to do a lot by yourself. ‘I got the ability. I have the talent.’ I don’t know if that may be the right thing to say but I kind of sense that. Right now it’s all about the team and they’re really happy for each other when something good happens."

A lot of good things have happened so far for the Kings. How far can they go?

"I think the sky’s the limit really. I think this team will go as far as it lets itself go," Johnson said.

Murray also said he will reinstate Randy Jones on defense after sitting the veteran defenseman the past two games. Peter Harrold, who didn't play at all in the third period on Monday, will sit.

"I think it's just time to make a change there," Murray said.

Much more later at www.latimes.com/sports

-- Helene Elliott

 
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