The Kings may have extended their streak of scoring two regulation/overtime goals or fewer to 13 consecutive games, and it may have taken a shootout to beat the team that’s ranked 29th in the NHL, but at the end of the day, two points are two points, and they’re two points that the Kings really needed, as they got the Darryl Sutter era kicked off on a high note, winning their first game under their new bench boss.
For the most part, the Kings looked pretty impressive tonight. Having Brad Richardson and Trevor Lewis on the top two lines really injected some speed into the Kings, and although they were once again held to only a pair of goals, the Kings looked much better and more full of life than usual and picked up an important win under their new head coach.
Dustin Brown has been excellent as of late, and for a second straight game, picked up a regulation goal and the winner in the shootout. His lack of physicality to start the year has been puzzling, but lately his physicality — along with the rest of his game — has picked up, and he’s been leading this team like the captain he’s been for four years now. He was also excellent defensively tonight, he was really backchecking hard, and overall he just looked like he was always moving and working his tail off, and he got rewarded.
Another positive was the play of Drew Doughty. Doughty looked great out there, played a very smart game, and was a plus-2 on the night while assisting on both Kings goals. His only blemish on the night was a holding penalty on Bobby Ryan in overtime after Ryan was sprung on a partial break, but the Kings penalty kill has been outstanding lately and tonight was no different, and they picked up Doughty. Doughty’s starting to look like he may be turning a corner lately, and if he is, that is such great news for this team. Let’s hope he keeps it up.
Oh yeah, and welcome back Mike Richards! The Kings’ MVP picked up right where he left off before he missed the last eight games with a concussion, scoring his team-leading 12th goal of the season and playing his usual, excellent two-way game.
Well, the Kings welcomed their new coach back with a nailbiter, but they came out on top and this is sure to be a very upbeat team on their plane ride to San Jose tonight. Before we get set for that game, let’s recap this win over the Ducks…
1st period: The Kings outshot the Ducks 13-9 in a scoreless opening frame that was highlighted by a fight between Colin Fraser and Matt Beleskey. This welterweight match featured Fraser getting a couple of punches in early, but Beleskey getting the takedown at the end. This was at least Fraser’s third fight of the season, which may actually lead the Kings. I had no idea he fought… In a way, the Sutter era started a lot like this season has gone for the Kings, with the Kings outplaying their opponent and getting their chances, but not being able to bury them and running into a hot goaltender. The Kings didn’t have a power-play while the Ducks went 0-for-2, and the Kings are lucky their penalty kill has been so great, because they’re having trouble staying out of the penalty box lately, particularly early in games.
2nd period: The Kings failed on a couple of power-plays, and then the Ducks decided that if the Kings didn’t want to score, then they would. Lubomir Visnovsky took a low wrist shot from the point that Niklas Hagman converted with a back door tip-in. You know, the play that the Kings can never seem to get right. Hagman’s sixth goal of the season was also assisted by Luca Sbisa at the 13:55 mark. However, this time, it was the Kings scoring a goal shortly after the other team scored one. Mike Richards won the draw back to Drew Doughty and then headed straight for the net and redirected Doughty’s shot past Hiller at the 16:17 mark, for Richards’ 12th goal of the season. The Kings went 0-for-2 on the power-play in the frame, while the Ducks didn’t have one. The Kings would also get 1:40 of a power-play carry over into the third period after getting a third power-play with 20 seconds remaining in the period. LA outshot Anaheim 12-6 in the period.
3rd period: The Kings took the lead at the 8:02 mark. Drew Doughty started the breakout to Anze Kopitar, who carried it into the Ducks zone and then dropped it to Dustin Brown in the high slot whose shot sort of fluttered up high and beat Hiller, for Brown’s eighth goal of the season. A few minutes later, Ryan Getzlaf cross checked Brown in the back near the Kings bench and Colin Fraser immediately jumped in to the defense of his captain, and both received unsportsmanlike minors, leading to two minutes of 4-on-4 play. No goals were scored during the 4-on-4. Anaheim tied it up late, at the 16:49 mark. Hey, at least the Kings didn’t give up a goal shortly after scoring one tonight. Perhaps Sutter can help fix that problem. The Kings couldn’t clear the puck, and then Niklas Hagman got the puck to Lubomir Visnovsky at the point. Visnovsky controlled the puck and moved to his right, waiting for a screen to develop in front of Jonathan Quick, before wiring a wrist shot against the flow that beat Quick far side to his blocker. Toni Lydman also got an assist on Visnovsky’s third goal of the season. Los Angeles outshot Anaheim 8-5 in the third period, and 33-20 in regulation. The Kings went 0-for-1 on the power-play and 0-for-3 in regulation, while the Ducks didn’t have one and went 0-for-2 in regulation.
Overtime: Bobby Ryan was sprung on a partial breakaway, and Drew Doughty took a holding penalty on Ryan on the play, setting up a 4-on-3 power-play for the Ducks for two minutes in overtime and a chance to win the game. However, the Kings penalty kill once again came up huge and killed it off. Late in overtime, Bobby Ryan took a holding penalty of his own, giving the Kings 30 seconds of a 4-on-3 power-play to finish off overtime. However, they would not convert. The Ducks outshot the Kings 2-1 in overtime but the Kings outshot the Ducks 34-22 on the night, while each team went 0-for-1 on the power-play in overtime. The Kings went 0-for-4 on the night and the Ducks went 0-for-3 on the night. Despite the 0-for-4, Darryl Sutter said he liked what he saw from the power-play. Personally, I thought it looked like the same old ineffective power-play, but hey, he’s the coach…
Shootout: Being the home team, the Kings elected when to shoot, and they chose to shoot first.
1st round: Jarret Stoll came in and did his patented laser snap shot to the top right corner, and after missing in Toronto on Monday, he beat Hiller this time. He is now 2-for-4 on the season.
Corey Perry came in and shot one through Quick’s five-hole, tying up the shootout after one round. He is now 1-for-5 on the season.
2nd round: Anze Kopitar came in and shot it high. He is now 1-for-5 on the season, certainly not the Kopitar we’re used to seeing in shootouts.
Teemu Selanne came in, made a deke to the backhand, but Quick was able to get over to make the save. He is now 2-for-5 on the season.
3rd round: Dustin Brown came in and wired a wrist shot low glove that beat Hiller. He is now 2-for-4 on the season.
Kyle Palmeiri came in and simply put a wrist shot on goal that was stopped by Quick, wrapping up the extra point for the Kings. He is now 0-for-1 on the season.
The Ducks lose their fourth straight shootout, dropping them to 1-4 in shootouts on the season, while the Kings win their third straight shootout, improving to 3-2 in shootouts on the season, and Quick, Stoll and the gang are bringing back some of last year’s shootout magic after starting this season by losing both of their first two shootouts. In the fourth of six meetings between the Kings and Ducks this season, the Kings are 3-1-0 with a pair of shootout victories. Both meetings between these teams at Staples Center have resulted in a Kings shootout win. The Ducks lose their fourth straight game, and have lost 13 straight road games, going 0-9-4 in that stretch. On the season, they are 2-10-5 away from Honda Center. Suddenly, the Kings have won two straight games and three of their last four, and despite being on a 13-game streak without scoring three or more regulation/overtime goals in a game, are also on a psuedo two-game streak of scoring three goals.
So after winning in Darryl Sutter’s debut, the Kings will look to keep it going when they roll into San Jose on Friday night, finishing off a back-to-back set of games while hoping to head into the holiday break with a good feeling. Stay tuned for a game preview coming sometime before the puck drops at the HP Pavillion at 10:30 PM ET/7:30 PM ET.
NOTE: After the game, Darryl Sutter pulled Jonathan Bernier aside and spoke to him before he went and celebrated with his teammates. With the Kings taking a flight before playing their second game in as many nights, don’t be surprised if he told him he was getting the start in San Jose on Friday.