Tonight, I was able to attend the Kings/Ducks game in Anaheim as a fan, which was quite a treat. I hadn’t attended a Kings game as a fan since 2006, I think. I got to wear one of my Kings jerseys, sit with my friend in a Ducks jersey, and cheer for the Kings. Fortunately, for me, the Kings gave me a lot to cheer about and the Ducks put up a good fight, making the game exciting and at times nerve wracking. Everything one would want in a game as a fan.
Jonathan Quick played for the Kings in both games against the Ducks even though they were back to back games and he had to win last night’s game in a shootout. Clearly, this was a good decision on Terry Murray’s part, since Quick looked great in net for the Kings. Dan Ellis was in net for the Ducks tonight. I would have played Hiller at home instead, since he generally gives the Ducks a better chance to win, but I’m sure Randy Carlyle had his reasons.
I was surprised that the game was still relatively empty (especially for a SoCal rivalry or “Freeway Series” game). Tonight’s game at the Honda Center in Anaheim had almost everything a fan could want in a game. The Kings scored a short-handed and power play goal (scored by Simon Gagne & Slava Voynov) and the Ducks got a power play goal (scored by Corey Perry). In fact, if you count the empty net goal at the end of the game, the Kings had two short-handed goals. One of the Ducks’ goals was reviewed and the call on the ice of a goal stood. Kyle Clifford and Sheldon Brookbank fought.
Jonathan Quick’s save percentage of .921 stood up with the Kings’ five goals. Star Kings’ player Anze Kopitar scored his 9th goal of the season, Mike Richards had two goals, Gagne had a goal and an assist, … what more could a Kings fan ask for in a game?
There was an odd problem with the lights tonight I can’t remember seeing in a hockey game before. The teams came back out for the third period and had to wait while the Honda Center employees rushed to fix the problem. The teams were waiting so long that they had to let them warm up some more. Practice in the middle of a game is definitely not typical, but the teams needed to stay active. Fans were a little restless, but a problem like that isn’t typical and gives fans something to talk about the next day other than the win or loss.
Perhaps this set of back to back games against the Ducks is exactly what the Kings to kick their season into gear and get them to start playing consistently like the team everyone expected to see this season – the contender.
Though it’s still early in the season and the Kings have played more games than all the teams in their division other than the Ducks, they took over the division lead with tonight’s win, putting them in third place in the western conference. Perhaps this is the beginning of a good streak that will keep the Kings near the top for a while.
Tags: Anze Kopitar, back-to-back games, Corey Perry, Dan Ellis, Ducks, fans, Honda Center, Jonas Hiller, Jonathan Quick, Kings, Kyle Clifford, Mike Richards, NHL, Randy Carlyle, Sheldon Brookbank, Simon Gagne, Slava Voynov, standings, Terry Murray
Tonight’s game in LA was beyond disappointing for the Kings fans (18,216 sellout crowd with standing room only announced and unlike the Honda Center for the first two Ducks playoff games, Staples Center was packed). The Kings lost game one to the Sharks 3-2 after coming back from the very early Sharks goal. They bounced back from that to shut out the Sharks in San Jose Saturday night winning 4-0. They scored 2:26 & 2:39 into the first period tonight, ended the first period up 3-0, and even scored 44 seconds into the second period. The Kings scored eight unanswered goals after losing in overtime in game one. Then… they collapsed, hit the wall, stopped playing hard enough, … whatever you want to call it, the Kings had an embarrassing loss at home and many fans are (rightfully) upset with their team.
After the fourth goal in tonight’s game, the Sharks pulled goaltender Antti Niemi and apparently he took the Kings’ mojo and will with him. The Kings scored only one goal against Antero Nittymaki, who got his first win of the series, and allowed 5 goals in regulation to end the second period tied at 5 goals each. The Kings seemed to stop the bleeding when they answered the Sharks’ third goal with their fifth, but they allowed two more goals before that period ended and were quite simply outplayed. The Sharks looked like they had extended power plays. Though coach Terry Murray was happy with the way the Kings pulled themselves together for the third period, the only really good thing that can be said of the period is that the Kings allowed no goals against.
Unlike the regular season, where the Kings could do their best to survive five minutes of four on four overtime to win in the shootout (where goaltender Jonathan Quick was undefeated, 10-0), the playoffs don’t have a skills competition. Playoff hockey is 5 on 5 in 20 minute periods that become sudden death starting with the first overtime. TV timeouts are eliminated and intermissions get a bit shorter, but the game remains a real hockey game until a goal is scored. Devin Setoguchi scored the game winning overtime goal just 3:09 into the first overtime. On the bright side, since their team lost, at least the Kings fans were spared an agonizing 3 overtime game that ends with the same disappointment, but includes decreased sleep and a lot more disappointment.
Coach Terry Murray said you had to give the Sharks credit for their power play goal in the second period, “but outside of that, we did this to ourselves… we get caught out for extended shifts… you’re exhausted, you’re getting rattled…” It’s good that Murray acknowledged that the Kings brought the loss on themselves, since perhaps that means he’ll be able to address that problem with the Kings tomorrow, so they can come back from this demoralizing loss at home to win game four Thursday at Staples Center and re-tie the series.
There are a ton of stats (mostly not favorable) about teams (and the Kings specifically) who lose game three of a seven game NHL playoff series and go down two games to one. I’ve always thought those stats (even if they include the same teams from the year before, since there are always some changes from year to year) are as useless as knowing what numbers have hit recently in roulette or the recent coin flip stats. How the team performed when Wayne Gretzky was in the lineup is irrelevant. This team is a completely different team and only they can decide how they’ll play Thursday.
Regardless of what happens in the series, it was nice to see a southern California team properly celebrating the playoffs. The Kings do more for the first round of the playoffs than the Ducks did during the Stanley Cup Finals the year they won the Cup. The Kings had a DJ, live pep band, temporary tattoos, a beer garden, and other booths set up outside. They had The Briggs (who sing their theme song “This is LA”) perform inside before the game to get the fans into the game and after the second goal of the night, I can’t remember hearing Staples Center so loud before. I’m sure the “Frenzy on Figueroa” comeback win against the Red Wings in 2001 was louder and I was there, but it’s hard to remember the arena being that loud before. Kings fans are hoping their faithfulness and support will be rewarded Thursday and they’re sure to fill Staples Center with another SRO sellout crowd. Perhaps this time, the home crowd will be happier when they leave.
Tags: Antero Nittymaki, Antti Niemi, fans, Frenzy on Figueroa, Holiday, Honda Center, Jonathan Quick, Kings, NHL, playoffs, sellout, Sharks, standing room, Stanley Cup, Staples Center, Terry Murray, Wayne Gretzky
Those following the Kings’ season will not be at all surprised that the Kings clinched their playoff spot in a shootout. Their number one goalie (Jonathan Quick) is now 10-0 in shootouts. The team is 10-2, but both shootout losses were by Jonathan Bernier. Quick isn’t the only reason the Kings have had such success in the shootout this season. Jarret Stoll is 9 for 10 in the shootout this season, which is amazing.
With tonight’s win, the Kings are currently in 4th place in the western conference and have played the same number of games as the other teams currently the playoff spots. Home ice advantage for round one of the playoffs is definitely a real possibility for the Kings. It would be the first time they’d had home ice advantage in the playoffs since the early 90s. They’ve also tied the club record for 46 wins in a season (also in 09-10 & 90-91). Stoll’s 20th goal of the season tonight gives the Kings six 20 goal scorers for the first time since 92-93, which was the only time the Kings got to the Stanley Cup Finals.
In spite of how it may have looked to some of us watching the overtime tonight in Staples Center, Terry Murray said the Kings always play to win in overtime when in those situations and were NOT playing to get into the shootout, since their goaltender is undefeated in the shootout. Not surprisingly, Murray also said “it was a fun game to coach tonight” and later responded “this is the best time of my life” when asked if he was having fun.
For their part in this season possibly being the first time he two SoCal teams (and, in fact, all three California NHL teams) make the NHL playoffs, the Ducks beat the Sharks tonight in Anaheim. They were led by Corey Perry’s hat trick, including his league leading 50th goal of the season.
The Kings and Ducks face off in their last two games of the season in back to back games in Anaheim Friday and Los Angeles Saturday. Both games are sure to be very intense, since the Ducks may still be fighting to clinch their playoff spot and both teams will want to finish as high in the standings as possible.
Tags: Corey Perry, Coyotes, Ducks, hat trick, Hockey, Jarret Stoll, Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick, Kings, NHL, playoffs, Sharks, shootout, standings, Stanley Cup Finals, Staples Center, Terry Murray
The Kings are now 9-2 in the shootout (and their #1 goalie, Jonathan Quick is 9-0) and 24-0-1 when leading after the 2nd period. They also scored two power play goals tonight (both by team captain, Dustin Brown), though their power play had been struggling lately. They’ve moved back into 5th place in the western conference and have 2 games in hand on the 4th place Coyotes, three points ahead of the Kings. The Kings also have back to back wins at home after playing horribly in their first game back after sweeping the recent four game road trip. Willie Mitchell scored a nice goal. Jarret Stoll scored his 7th straight shootout goal. All of this is very good news for the LA Kings fans.
The bad news is that the Kings gave up two leads against the Sharks (one with only 4.1 seconds to go), ended their penalty kill streak at 35, and lose the first tie breaker (wins not counting shootout wins) with everyone. The Kings are also only four points ahead of the 9th place Dallas Stars and being out of the playoffs. As much as the fans and players want to enjoy the playoffs at Staples Center again this year, only one team in the western conference has a guaranteed spot – the Vancouver Canucks have clinched the head of their division and are currently leading the NHL and the race for the President’s Trophy.
In spite of scoring both the Kings’ power play goals and the winning goal in the shootout, Captain Dustin Brown was clearly concerned about the team blowing two leads at the end of regulation tonight, saying it was “definitely not the way we want to do it… blowing two leads really with less than three minutes left or four minutes left.” It may not be the way a team would want to win, but at least the Kings are winning. The game against the Sharks was an exciting one. Both teams even fought hard to try to win in overtime and had decent chances. The sold out crowd at Staples Center definitely found going out in the rain (something southern Californians seem to try to avoid at all costs) and the money spent worth it tonight. I may not be a fan of the shootout (and I can’t see my opinion of it ever changing), but the shootout ending with Dustin Brown scoring the deciding goal was definitely an exciting end to a very intense game in Los Angeles.
The playoff race is definitely going to remain intense until the end of the season. All NHL teams have nine games or less left in the regular season and only ten percent of the teams have secured their playoff spots. No teams are listed as mathematically eliminated on the NHL site yet, but Edmonton and Colorado have been mathematically eliminated in the west. If they won all of their games and no one above them won a single game remaining this season (which is impossible given the schedules and all the teams ahead of them that play each other), the Avalanche finish higher than 11th in the west. (For the record, no one has been mathematically eliminated in the eastern conference.)
Tags: Avalanche, blown lead, Canucks, Coyotes, Dustin Brown, Hockey, Jarret Stoll, Jonathan Quick, Kings, NHL, Oilers, penalty kill, playoffs, power play, sellout, Sharks, shootout, standings, Staples Center, Stars, tie breaker, Willie Mitchell
The Kings broke a four game home losing streak tonight in LA when they won in the shootout… again. The Kings are tied with the New York Rangers for the best shootout record (8-2). The Flames have also won 8 shootouts, but they’ve lost 7. The only problem with being so good in the shootout this year is that players might hang back in the overtime, realizing that their goalie Jonathan Quick can get them the win in the shootout more times than not and if they’re tied with another team in points this season, they lose the first tie breaker. The Kings have 41 wins this season, but only 33 of those came in regulation or overtime and the first tie breaker this year only includes regulation and overtime wins. I’ve never been a fan of deciding a sport of any kind by a skills competition and if they think the shootout shouldn’t count maybe they should just get rid shootouts and go back to ties if there is no score in the five minute overtime period. I doubt this will happen, since it’s all about ratings and fans seem more likely to watch if the game could end in a shootout, so I’m sure it’s here to stay.
All other teams fighting for a spot in the western conference were surely annoyed by another three point game in the conference. There always seem to be more three point games near the end of the season when so many teams are desperate to secure their place in the playoffs. The only truly secure teams in the western conference are the Vancouver Canucks, though the Detroit Red Wings and San Jose Sharks are pretty sure of their spots, too. I suppose the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche are fairly securely out of the playoffs, but that’s not something anyone wants to admit until they’re officially mathematically eliminated and that hasn’t happened yet.
Tonight’s game was intense and definitely a nail biter for fans of both teams. There was no scoring until just under 6 minutes remained in regulation, then there were two goals within a little over a minute leading to a tie at one goal, which they maintained until they got to the shootout. Though the Flames were the first to score on the shootout, Stoll and Kopitar scored for the Kings and the Kings won the shootout and the game 2-1.
When asked about what makes him so successful in the shootout, a typically humble Quick threw the attention right back to his teammates saying, “I gotta give a lot of credit to the guys shooting the puck for us… when you score two out of three, I think we’re gonna win more times than not.”
I thought one of the best signs for the Kings fans tonight (other than a much needed win at home in front of the fans, which was a nice change from the last four home games) was that the Kings had one really amazing power play in the second period. They didn’t score, but they did everything correctly. During the second intermission, I was talking to some of my friends in the press box about that power play and mentioned that I thought it was the Kings’ best all year. Terry Murray brought up that same power play in the press conference, saying, “You know the power play we had in the second period. We didn’t score. You know the one I’m talking about? That was the best power play we’ve had this year. That is exactly what we’ve been talking about – what we need to see on a regular basis.” The trick, of course, is to somehow make that something the Kings can do on a regular basis and clearly if Murray had the solution to that the Kings would have the best power play in the NHL instead of the 19th (their rank before tonight’s game).
The Kings will be home again on Thursday hosting the division leading San Jose Sharks and what’s sure to be an excited Staples Center sellout crowd as the regular season winds down and Kings fans prepare to see some more playoff hockey in Los Angeles.
Tags: Anze Kopitar, Avalanche, Canucks, Flames, Hockey, Jarret Stoll, Jonathan Quick, Kings, NHL, Oilers, overtime, playoffs, power play, Rangers, Red Wings, Sharks, shootout, standings, Staples Center, Terry Murray, tie breaker
Dustin Penner’s first game as a King was definitely different from their collapse against the Red Wings in the 7-4 loss Monday. The Kings went from a game where 11 goals were scored to a game where the only goal was the game winning power play goal by Jarret Stoll at 12:13 in the 3rd period. When talking about the upcoming playoffs, Stoll mentioned that “You really can’t have a bad period any more.” With any luck, the game against the Red Wings Monday combined with the addition of Dustin Penner will be what the Kings need to shake them up and get them into playoff mode as the regular season winds down.
Bernier got his second shutout of the season tonight in LA, but Terry Murray said he hasn’t thought about who will start on Saturday yet when asked if Bernier’s performance tonight has him thinking of starting him on Saturday. Jonathan Quick was definitely less than stellar Monday night against the Red Wings, but one can hardly blame him completely for the Kings’ breakdown that night. The Kings did well in their last afternoon game, but I’m sure Kings fans are crossing their fingers that their team can play two afternoon games in a row at a high level and stay in the playoff mix.
The Western Conference is so tight that one win moved the Kings from 8th to 5th place (and the Coyotes, who have played two more games than the Kings, but are tied in points with 76) down to 6th from 5th. Terry Murray often talks about how important the four point games are within the division and at this time of the season, these games seem even more important in a tight conference.
Tags: Coyotes, Dustin Penner, Hockey, Jarret Stoll, Jonathan Bernier, Jonathan Quick, Kings, NHL, playoffs, power play, Red Wings, standings, Terry Murray
Tonight’s shutout of the Bruins in LA was Jonathan Quick’s 5th of the season. It was also the first time he won two games in a row since the Kings’ four game streak at the end of last month (Quick won the first two and last of the four). Their special teams have also been struggling. Until scoring against the best goalie (in save percentage and goals against average), Tim Thomas, on the power play tonight, the Kings had a 0-22 streak on the power play. Perhaps their special teams have finally started to click again. Ryan Smyth (who scored the power play goal about half-way through the first period, which ended up being the game winning goal due to Quick’s shutout) mentioned that the Kings had “capitalized on special teams tonight, which we’ve been lacking as of late.” Not only did the Kings score on the first of their three power play opportunities, but they were perfect on the penalty kill. Smyth also said he thinks the Kings have been creeping up to the level of play they’re at now in their last few games. The main question is whether the Kings will be able to sustain their high level of play and confidence. They competed for a full sixty minutes tonight, which is something I hadn’t seen from them yet this calendar year. Though they beat the Coyotes in Phoenix on Saturday, the Kings gave up a three goal lead to scare their fans first.
Boston has been a consistently good team, but the Kings have won their last five games against them. Most Kings fans are probably wondering why their team has to play down to the worse teams if they’re capable of beating the best goalie in the NHL. While it’s true that any team in the NHL has the capability of beating any other team on a given night, Kings fans have seen their team barely show up for games against some of the worst teams in the league this season, which is very frustrating. Some of the worst teams in the league try harder than the Kings do consistently and aren’t capable of beating many of the teams they face. I think that’s easier to take than watching such a talented team choose not to compete at a high level sometimes. Maybe beating Thomas will help the Kings regain their confidence and continue to climb back up the standings. In spite of being in 11th place as of tonight’s win, the Kings are only 3 points behind the 8th place Colorado Avalanche. The western conference is very tight, so the Kings are really only one decent winning streak away from being back in the playoff picture.
The Bruins don’t play in SoCal often, which explains why tonight’s sellout crowd was closer to the announced 18,118 than I’d seen it in quite a while. There’s more energy in Staples Center when it’s pretty full, which definitely helps the Kings face an opponent. I’m sure they realize that if they win more there will be more fans in Staples Center, which will make it easier for them to win… It’s definitely a better cycle than the one where losing makes fewer fans show up, which makes it more difficult to play a full 60 minutes and win games.
Tags: Avalanche, Bruins, Coyotes, fans, Hockey, Jonathan Quick, Kings, NHL, penalty kill, playoffs, power play, Ryan Smyth, special teams, standings, Staples Center, Tim Thomas
The Kings definitely don’t feel lucky right now, but given the circumstances of tonight’s game, I think they’re lucky to get a point for the overtime loss to the Wild. Quick (who could have easily been given credit for assisting the two regulation goals by the Minnesota Wild) made a couple bad mistakes that cost the Kings easy goals. The referees made a lot of bad calls (the first goal the Kings scored being disallowed, interference being called later when the player was no where near the goalie, high sticking calls missed, etc.) tonight in LA. They made bad calls both ways, but it seemed the key bad calls went against the home team. Add that to the play by Quick, which would have caused many people to pull him from the game (or at least seriously consider it) and the Kings’ horrible power play and the Kings fans should be relieved that their team got something out of the last home game their team plays until December 23rd.
On the bright side, the Kings got seven out of eight possible points so far in December. The down side is that the Kings head on a road trip starting in Detroit on Monday now. They’re hoping to bounce back from this overtime loss, be glad that they got a point, and move on to playing hard against Detroit.
Though Terry Murray admitted that the Kings’ power play and penalty killing didn’t do the job for his team tonight, he was fast to point out “those are not fluke plays… those are giveaways. That’s a puck on your stick, that’s concentration, that’s making the right play – the right decision with the puck” when asked about the regulation goals against Quick tonight. In spite of this, Murray answered with a very quick “No” when asked if he thought of pulling Quick. Clearly, he made a good decision there, since Quick buckled down after that and didn’t allow another goal until the Wild had a 4 on 3 power play in overtime.
This is the Kings’ first overtime loss this season. They won one game in overtime (against Detroit at home earlier this month) and three in shootouts (all on the road). Now that the Kings have lost in overtime, only one team remains who hasn’t lost once they get past regulation – the Florida Panthers.
It’s early to think of standings, but the Kings are still in good shape there, in spite of being how it looks at first glance (with the Kings in 10th). Though the Kings are 2 spots out of the playoff standings, They’re only one point behind the Coyotes, Predators, Avalanche, Sharks, & Ducks in 5-9 places and have 2-5 games in hand on those teams. Just one win in those extra games puts the Kings right in the playoff mix. The Pacific division is only separated by 3 points and has teams in 2, 5, 8, 9, & 10 right now. It’s clearly going to be a hard fought division title this season.
In other news, most Kings fans know about the deal the Kings made for Marco Sturm earlier today. Dean Lombardi was very clear about the deal being dependent on the physical, which is typical. In this case, Sturm’s physical on Monday will definitely focus on his knees a bit more than usual. The Kings have been burned before with injured players, though they seem to be doing something right in that area the last few years (*knock on wood*). Will Sturm be the piece the Kings are missing? Time will tell. Lombardi pointed out that the deal for Sturm leaves him room to possibly make a deal before the trade deadline if he thinks that’s necessary. It’s clear that he’ll be doing his best to make sure the Kings get far in the playoffs this season. Getting kicked out in the first round after six games is not going to be acceptable this season.
Tags: bad calls, Dean Lombardi, goaltender interference, Hockey, Jonathan Quick, Kings, Marco Sturm, NHL, overtime, Panthers, penalties, penalty kill, power play, referees, Terry Murray, Wild
It may be early and Terry Murray may not pay attention to the standings much, but the fans know that their Los Angeles Kings are #1 in the west and #2 in the NHL after their league leading 8th home win in a row to start the season. The Kings are also tied with the Ducks for the longest current NHL winning streak with six games. Their penalty kill is still perfect at home (and their overall pk is also #1 in the NHL). Their top line had points in 4 of their 5 goals including a goal on the first shot of the game and one on a beautiful penalty shot by Dustin Brown. As Kopi said, “it’s nice to see him get one of the nicer goals.” Brown said, “I had a plan at center and I switched about the blue line.” He mentioned that he has three moves that he does and two come off that move to the right. He said he just “pulled a Kopi and slid it five hole.” The penalty shot might not be as rare as it was in the past, but those goals are still special for the players and their fans.
Justin Williams tied his career high point streak of 9 games with his goal against the Islanders. Jonathan Quick has consistently been one of the leading goaltenders in the league (and had a save percentage of almost 95% tonight). The Kings even scored on the power play (not the Kings’ strong suit this season) against the Islanders. What more could LA Kings fans ask of their team? It really doesn’t get much better than this as a fan. It’s good to be the Kings and their fans this season.
A couple years ago, the Kings would have started slow against the last place team in the NHL. They didn’t do that against the last place New York Islanders. Instead, the Kings came out strong and extended the Islanders’ league leading losing streak to ten games.
Southern California is not the place to visit if you’re on any other team in the NHL this season. The SoCal home teams have lost only 2 games this season and gone without a point in a game only once.
Possibly one of the best signs for Kings fans is that it’s getting better all the time. The last few games, the Kings’ top line seems to have clicked. Kopi has 7 points in the last three games, Brown has 5, & Parse has 3. Kopitar scored his 300th career NHL point with his second goal of the game against the Islanders (and the 301st with his assist in the last Kings goal). When asked about what changed for his line, Kopitar said he thought they’d been making good plays without getting any results, “but now we get a few bounces here and there and we score a couple goals and then the confidence gets high and everything seems a lot easier.” That’s really how things have been going for the Kings all season. Many players have talked about how everything seems to go your way when you’re winning. When things are going well for your team, all the bounces seem to go your way. The Kings are continuing to work hard in every game and not phoning it in – ever. The team clearly enjoys being on the top of the standings and having other teams have to come into Staples Center to play up to the Kings’ level of play and not the other way around. Teams coming to LA know they’re going to have a tough time and play harder as a result.
This year’s Kings remind me a lot of the Penguins of 2008, though they have a better record. They were knocked out of the playoffs (many of the players’ first in their NHL career) early last season and they’re clearly determined to do better this season. Before the season started, I said I thought the Kings would be in the conference finals and perhaps even the Stanley Cup Finals. The more I see of this team, the more I believe they’ve got the right mindset and skill set to go deep into the playoffs.
The Kings travel to San Jose to face the Sharks Monday night. That’s always a tough building and the team knows they have to take their A game with them to San Jose. Clearly, the team hopes to continue their winning streak there.
Tags: Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Hockey, Islanders, Jonathan Quick, Justin Williams, Kings, losing streak, NHL, penalty kill, penalty shot, playoffs, power play, Scott Parse, Sharks, Stanley Cup Finals, Staples Center, Terry Murray, winning streak
The Los Angeles Kings are back in 1st place in the NHL (the Flyers were there for a few hours until the end of the Kings game). Before tonight, the Lightning had never lost at Staples Center and their goaltender Mike Smith had never lost a game to the Kings. The Kings had also not lost at home this season (4-0-0). Los Angeles hadn’t started 4-0 at home since the 1988-89 season. Clearly, something had to give tonight – at least one of the streaks had to end. The Lightning & Smith’s streaks gave way as Jonathan Quick stopped all 24 shots he faced (including 3 by NHL leading scorer Steven Stamkos) and extended the Kings’ home winning streak to 5-0-0 so far this season. Jonathan Quick also ended Steven Stamkos’ 7 game point streak.
In spite of the low score, tonight’s game in LA was a lot more exciting than the game the Lightning played in Anaheim last night (where they lost to the Ducks 3-2 in overtime). Tonight’s game had the potential to be one of the best hockey games in the NHL this season. Two of the top teams in the country (who were #1 and #2 in the NHL before any of tonight’s games were played) faced each other for the only time this season. Hockey fans everywhere were interested in this game and it was definitely more exciting than last night’s game. The Kings’ 4th sellout of the season was definitely more full than most of the sellouts in southern California hockey.
Dustin Brown got hit hard into the boards from behind pretty early in the game… not exactly the birthday present he was looking for tonight, but I’m sure the win helped make today a great birthday for the 26-year-old Kings Captain.
The Lightning players were a bit tired after last night’s game in Anaheim, but a great team usually rises to the occasion when facing another great team and the Lightning seemed to have plenty of energy tonight. The Kings had been off for four days, which can also make it difficult to keep energy levels up. They came out with all cylinders firing and looked really good at the start of the game.
The game got very chippy at the end. There had been some tough hits already and Downie clearly wanted to fight someone, but when he went after Doughty Mitchell stepped in. Downie missed, but Mitchell had to send a message. Fans always like to see players sticking up for each other. Things were definitely very chippy near the end of the game, but there were only two fighting penalties in the game (when Mitchell and Downie fought). Things seemed a bit out of control near the end of the game, but no one was seriously injured.
Justin Williams’ goal was the only goal of tonight’s game. It extended his goal streak to tie his career high of four games. His goal was a beautiful goal with a great pass from Smyth to start it off. Williams continued to be the Kings’ best offensive player this season. Williams talked about how important it was to have Drew Doughty, the Kings’ most important defensive player, back tonight and how well Quick played.
Naturally, Jon Quick talked mostly about how great the team in front of him performed and didn’t take much credit for his stellar performance tonight. That’s the kind of guy he is, but Kings fans know how important it is to have a solid goaltender and so do the players on the team.
The Kings host the Predators at Staples Center on Sunday in a fairly rare 7:00 pm start. They’ll try to be the second team this season to start out 6-0-0 at home (the Blues have won all six of their home games this season). The Lightning head to San Jose to face the Sharks on Saturday and try to win at least one game in California on their west coast trip (they’re 1-1-1 in their road trip so far and I’m sure they want to head back to a win before heading home).
Tags: Drew Doughty, Ducks, Dustin Brown, Hockey, Jonathan Quick, Justin Williams, Kings, Lightning, Mike Smith, NHL, Ryan Smyth, Staples Center, Steve Downie, Steven Stamkos, Willie Mitchell