Not bad for a 21-year old defenseman in his fifth NHL game, huh?
The Kings offense, at least temporarily, awoke from its slumber on Thursday night in Dallas, largely thanks to the Kings’ prized young Russian rookie defenseman, Slava Voynov. Voynov lead the way with two goals, one on the power play and the other was the game-winner, as well as an assist, and was a plus-2 while hearing Terry Murray’s “shot mentality” loud and clear, taking five shots on goal. With Drew Doughty slated to return to the lineup on Saturday, Voynov is heading back to Manchester for now, but make no mistake, he made an incredible impression on his team and will be back up as soon as there’s room for him.
Although it’s very sad to see Voynov go down, we get a different 21-year old defenseman back in the lineup, as our first-round pick in 2008 replaces our second-round pick in 2008 on the blue line. The one the Kings are getting back has an Olympic Gold Medal and a Norris Nominee under his belt, but after a disappointing season, Drew Doughty’s attempt to bounce back this season was halted by a contract dispute that saw him miss almost all of training camp, and then an early-season shoulder injury. However, Saturday night is only Game 10 of this season, so although the start wasn’t what we hoped, Doughty has lots of time to turn this around and make it a very strong season for himself. The question is, after missing pretty much all of camp and most of the season to this point, how long will it take Doughty to get back to the peak of his game? Let’s hope it doesn’t take long.
As far as the game goes, it was a strong one for the Kings, and it was nice to see the Kings pick up Quick when he wasn’t perfect after he had picked them up so many times when they weren’t scoring. It was great to see the offense show some life after struggling pretty much all season long so far, other than the St. Louis game. The Kings scored five times (although one was an empty-netter), and it matched their season-high from that game with the Blues, and it was just the second time all year that the Kings had scored more than two goals in regulation. The first period wasn’t good at all, and neither was the first half of the third, but the second period was the best period I’ve seen the Kings play in a long time. And it was, of all teams, the Los Angeles Kings, who were the first team to solve Kari Lehtonen this season.
As far as Jonathan Quick goes, he returned to the crease after getting Tuesday off following him setting the Kings’ new shutout record, but surrendered three in this one. I thought he played pretty well though. I mean, 30 saves is ok, right? Yes he gave up three goals, but come on, he wasn’t going to be perfect forever. It was just nice to see the team pick him up and get the win.
The Kings are now 6-2-1, and sit one point back of the Stars with a game in hand for first in the Pacific and in the West, and are 2-0-0 against their division rival this year, after defeating Dallas twice in less than a week. Hopefully this is a turning point for the offense, and hopefully Drew Doughty’s return provides a spark. If so, this team’s going to be a lot of fun to watch. The only problem left being figuring out how to play in front of Jonathan Bernier…
Let’s quickly recap how the game went down…
1st period: At the 14:01 mark, Trevor Daley opened the scoring for the Stars with a power play goal, and his 1st goal of the year, and ended Quick’s monster shutout streak, finally, as he pinched in from the point and picked the puck out of a scramble in front and put it past Quick. Quick’s shutout streak ended at 202:11. Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn picked up assists. The Kings failed on 1:23 of a 5-on-3 at the end of the period, and went 0-for-2 on the power play, while the Stars went 1-for-1. The Stars outshot the Kings 11-9.
2nd period: The Kings didn’t take long getting the game tied up and rebounding from an abysmal 1st period, as Justin Williams tied it for the Kings at the 3:47 mark with his 3rd goal of the year. Slava Voynov took a shot from the point, and then Williams came in and knocked it in. Anze Kopitar also got an assist. It was Voynov’s first career point. Then, at the 11:27 mark, the Kings took the lead thanks to a goal by… Scott Parse? Yup. After being a healthy scratch in the last six games, Kevin Westgarth was taken out of the lineup while the struggling Dustin Penner was moved down to the bottom-six, while Parse took Penner’s spot on the 2nd line to the left of Mike Richards and Dustin Brown, and they welcomed their new linemate by picking up the assists on his goal. Brown got the puck to Richards, who went behind the net and fed a nice backhand, no-look pass out in front to Parse in the crease who had a tap-in for his 1st of the year. Although I still didn’t think Parse had a good game. Then at the 15:21 mark, Slava Voynov scored his 1st career goal, on the power play. Mike Richards sent the puck to Dustin Brown in front of the net who sent it off to Voynov who scored from the right circle to give the Kings a 3-1 lead. The Kings went 1-for-3 on the power play in the frame, while the Stars went 0-for-2. The Stars outshot the Kings 13-12 in the period.
3rd period: The Stars pulled within one at the 3:03 mark, shortly after a Scott Parse penalty expired. Mike Ribeiro held on to the puck and showed great patience waiting for Quick to bite, until he felt he finally had a hole and took a shot that just squeaked through Quick, and Michael Ryder was there in behind to stuff it in for his 3rd of the year.. Brenden Morrow also got an assist. Then at the 7:20 mark, Vernon Fiddler fed the puck from behind the net up to Eric Nystrom in the slot, who shot it through Quick who opened up his five-hole which allowed the hole for the puck to in. It was Nystrom’s 1st of the year, and as a Star. Radek Dvorak also got an assist. With the game tied, Slava Voynov decided to take matters into his own hands at the 13:08 mark, stepping into a slap shot at the top of the right circle that beat Lehtonen on his glove side with Trevor Lewis providing a terrific screen in front for Voynov’s 2nd goal.. Kyle Clifford and Ethan Moreau picked up assists, the first assist of the year for both, and Moreau’s first point as a King. Dustin Brown put the icing on the cake at the 19:33 mark with an empty-netter to give the Kings a 5-3 lead, with assists to Mike Richards. It was Brown’s 3rd of the year, 2nd point of the night, Richards’ 3rd point and 3rd assist of the night, and Anze Kopitar’s 2nd point and 2nd assist of the night. The Stars went 0-for-2 on the power play in the frame, and 1-for-5 on the night, while the Kings were 0-for-1 in the period, and 1-for-6 on the night. The Stars outshot the Kings 9-8 in the period, and 33-29 on the night.
So, the Kings are saying goodbye to one very talented defenseman (for now), and welcoming back another one on Saturday night in Phoenix. Will the Kings get the same result in Phoenix that they had last week? Stay tuned for a game preview coming sometime tomorrow before the puck drops at Jobing.com Arena at 9:00 PM ET/6:00 PM PT.