LOS ANGELES -- Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson were 10 years old when the first version of the "two kids and an old goat" line made its appearance for the Detroit Red Wings during their run to the 2002 Stanley Cup championship.
At the time, young Pavel Datsyuk and Boyd Devereaux were the perfect foils for Hall of Fame-bound Brett Hull, who came up with the name himself (the following year, Henrik Zetterberg took Devereaux's place on the unit). The notion was that the kids helped re-energize Hull, while one of the greatest scorers of all time imparted some wisdom on a pair of wide-eyed youngsters.
No one is suggesting that Jeff Carter is an old goat at 29 years old, and he isn't necessarily tracking toward the Hall of Fame. But given the performance that Carter and his youthful wards (or linemates, if you must) Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson turned in on Saturday night, perhaps it's time to start talking playoff MVP.
Carter, the not-so-old goat, had a goal and two assists to follow up his four-point performance in the third period of Game 2 as the Kings rolled over the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 Saturday to take a 2-1 series lead.
Toffoli added a goal and Pearson an assist, as the two 22-year-olds have now recorded points in four straight games.
"I'm having fun. This is incredible," Toffoli said.
"Obviously, as a young guy, you dream of being in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the past three games have been probably my best three games of the playoffs, so you just have to keep playing hard, and you want to win, so I'm trying to help the team."
It's not just the production, although obviously that's been impressive, as the trio has combined for 16 goals and 23 assists in the playoffs, but it's the manner in which the production has come about that has given the Kings a completely different feel than the past couple of postseasons.
There is a kind of abandon the three play with, a never-quit mentality that has teammates marveling.
On the Kings' second goal, Pearson outfought Brent Seabrook behind the Chicago goal for possession of the puck and then quickly found Carter parked on the edge of the Chicago crease to tie the game 2-2. A little over six minutes later, Toffoli would take advantage of a slow-reacting Chicago defense tandem of Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya to burst into the clear and score.
"When you have multiple threats -- and they've been our hottest line probably dating back to the end of Anaheim series -- it's great to see," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "Obviously, that's what we need. Carts, it's not a shock to see Carts score goals like he does, but those other two guys have come up and really stepped up their game and are playing at an elite level.
"I think it's exciting as a player who's been here for a long time to see guys come up and have really good success on the offensive side of the puck. Everyone talks about how we're not an offensive team, and that's probably our M.O. because we are very good on the defensive side of the puck. But to see some of the plays that they're making, it's exciting to be a teammate. I'm sure it's exciting to be a fan.