Amid — or intertwined with, if you will — the swirling questions about the Kings and their goaltending, the team had dropped three straight games in regulation play for the first time this season and had been overtaken by Edmonton for third place in the Pacific Division.

The opener of a six-game trip Saturday in Nashville had Pheonix Copley getting the hook just 39 seconds into his start after two pucks got by him in the Predators’ first three shots. But they also had a spirited second-period rally and the Kings were seemingly in control, taking a 3-2 lead into the third period. And then they lost control, with Nashville getting three unanswered goals to take a 5-3 victory.

With that in mind, Sunday’s contest — not even 24 hours later in Chicago — represented a must-win contest at this stage of the season. The Blackhawks weren’t going to be a pushover — they played the Kings into overtime in the other two meetings and came into the game with six wins in their last seven. But competitive as the players may be, this was dealing with an organization that’s in thinly veiled tank mode. At Game 49 in a developing tight division race, Los Angeles needed this one.

Needing to fend off a comeback that included a six-on-four penalty-killing situation in the final 22.8 seconds, the Kings got a 2-1 win that provided some ointment to the open sore. It got a little more stressed in the third than it should have been, considering how dominant L.A. had played until Ian Mitchell scored with 3:15 remaining. But they managed what was left in a competent manner and the airplane ride to Philadelphia could be restful and jovial.

“I think tonight is an example of where one game affects the other,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said in a televised Bally Sports postgame interview. “Last night, we had that lead. We didn’t manage it real well. Tonight, we managed it better, but we took our foot off the gas. So, we’re still trying to figure that out.

“We made much better decisions tonight in a lot of different areas that allowed us to come away with a win.”

As far as decisions go, McLellan had an important one in who to go with in net. Copley got the quick hook in Nashville, which came on top of being replaced Thursday after four goals on 17 shots in a loss to Dallas. Jonathan Quick, who has been their main man for the better part of 14 seasons, finished up against the Stars and then stopped 22 of 25 shots over the balance of Saturday’s contest. Copley’s struggles, however, could be where Quick can jump back in the driver’s seat after being relegated to passenger status.

Copley got the start Sunday. The 30-year-old journeyman who came out of nowhere (well, the organization’s No. 3 goalie role after a free-agent signing) to provide stability when the Kings badly needed it now had to reassure all who follow the team that their net-minding isn’t a full-blown crisis.

Kings right wing Viktor Arvidsson and Blackhawks defenseman Jack Johnson battle for the puck. (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)

What happened Sunday was the goalie and his team reverting to when he first jumped in at the start of December. The Kings played a tight game and didn’t allow many chances — Natural Stat Trick had them giving up only four of the high-danger variety — while Copley made the saves that needed to be made. Stops on Max Domi and Jonathan Toews were noteworthy. Otherwise, he wasn’t stellar. He didn’t need to be.

“We believe in both our goaltenders right now,” McLellan said. “Sometimes, the plan doesn’t go as set out. We planned to play Pheonix in Nashville and Quickie here in Chicago. It changed. Quickie got basically the whole game and Pheonix got his here. So, happy for both of them.”

Even when Cal Petersen was with them until his rough start landed him in the American Hockey League, McLellan has been careful to not come across as favoring one goalie over another. The veteran coach also has to support the 37-year-old Quick given his Stanley Cup-winning legacy with the Kings. McLellan also needs him to find consistency to be a trusted option if Copley falters. Kings general manager Rob Blake should be looking into the availability of goalies across the league, but the pressure to bring someone in will increase if either Copley or Quick can’t be their backbone.

With another winnable game Tuesday at Philadelphia before the trip swings into Florida and Carolina, the Kings need their net stabilized and to continue playing a tight game that defined their recent 10-2-1. Sunday’s effort resembled that. And after two rough starts, Copley eased some worried minds for a night.

“Obviously, that’s frustrating,” Copley said of his early hook Saturday. “I take that personal. So, yeah, I came out and wanted to give my best effort for the guys and for the team. I’m glad we got the win.”

Powering the offense was an unlikely scorer in Jaret Anderson-Dolan. The 23-year-old winger started the season as the extra forward and was a healthy scratch throughout the first month of the season. An injury to Brendan Lemieux gave him an opening. Anderson-Dolan has stuck in the lineup even with Lemieux returning because of his diligent effort night after night.

This was his night to shine offensively. Kevin Fiala, their leading scorer and All-Star representative, played a huge role. But you got to finish those great chances that come your way and Anderson-Dolan did in the first and second periods, following up with a rebound score after Fiala was stopped by Chicago goalie Petr Mrazek on a breakaway and then beating Mrazek after he worked to get open and get Fiala’s sterling feed.

That’s what the Kings needed, especially as their depth has been tested with four forwards sidelined due to injury. Trevor Moore and Arthur Kaliyev have yet to play in 2023, Carl Grundstrom suffered a lower-body injury in practice and is out through the All-Star break, and Gabriel Vilardi was sent back to Southern California for re-evaluation.

Anderson-Dolan got his fourth and fifth goals of the season, pushing his career total to 12 in his 84 NHL games. Anderson-Dolan said the first goal was one of the easier goals he has scored but that was a result of him staying with Fiala’s breakaway rush and heading to the net. But the second came from the creativity that Fiala has shown in his first season with the Kings.

“It looks like he’s shooting and it’s coming to you,” Anderson-Dolan said. “And vice versa. It looks like he’s passing and he’s shooting. Really skilled player and definitely have to be aware. At the same time, it’s fun playing with guys like that who make great plays. Obviously set me up twice tonight.”

The other notable development was Alex Turcotte making his season debut with the Kings. It has been an injury-plagued road for the No. 5 overall pick of the 2019 draft. Turcotte has had to push through multiple concussions from when he played at Wisconsin through the AHL with the Ontario Reign. He couldn’t participate in the Kings’ camp over the summer and fall. A lower-body injury also kept him from some action after he was cleared to play in November.

The 21-year-old center persevered and played well for the Reign, putting up 12 points in 18 games. It earned him a promotion to the banged-up parent club. Playing in Chicago was special as the son of former NHL player Alfie Turcotte who grew up in nearby Elk Grove and played midget hockey in Illinois.

“Yeah, it was obviously a dream come true,” Turcotte said. “When they started to sing the national anthem, I remember coming to games growing up as a kid and that’s kind of what they’re known for. I kind of got goosebumps. I was just really excited. Have a lot of friends and family here. I had a lot of fun out there.”

Turcotte played on a fourth line with fellow youngsters Rasmus Kupari and Samuel Fagemo. The three know each other well as high-round draft picks who came up in the Kings’ system. He said he felt comfortable with Kupari and Fagemo, which added to his confidence.

“He gave us the game we expected from him,” McLellan said. “He’s, for lack of a better team, (a) puck hound. He was on a lot of pucks. He managed his game well. Had a couple real good scoring chances. I thought he was aggressive all night when he needed to be and smart when he needed to be. Good signs.”