Waking up with the Kings: October 4
-It was a two-point night for the Los Angeles Kings after they snuck out of the Xcel Energy Center having cooked up the ingredients necessary to steal a win on the road. For L.A., opportunity was key. The Kings didn’t generate a bevy of scoring opportunities, but when there were chances, there were often goals. Jonathan Quick kept his team in it by stopping the final 18 shots of the game – including 13 in a bland second period – before Jeff Carter pounced on a rebound in front of the net with 6:46 to play after Mike Richards shook off Ryan Suter with some nice separation to set the game-tying goal in motion. Minnesota appears to have a strong number one power play unit, and credit the Kings for withstanding a late Wild power play after Willie Mitchell’s “marginal” interference call gave the home team an opportunity to win the game late in regulation. The Kings were 4-of-5 on the penalty kill, with the fourth successful kill the most important and timely of the evening.
-Credit Jonathan Quick and the team’s experienced composure in replying quickly after a questionable goal call stood in the early moments of the game. 6:36 after Matt Cooke’s purposeful redirect, Drew Doughty’s power play blast off some give-and-take with Slava Voynov evened the score at one. There are so many full-sheet-of-ice aspects the defenseman has added to his game since then, but the last time Doughty scored in the opening month of the season came in the 2009-10 season opener. I really liked the composure the team showed after Cooke’s goal 1:04 in was determined to be legitimate. The Kings were quickly able to generate some A-scoring chances as Jeff Carter and Matt Frattin forced Nicklas Backstrom to make several outstanding saves before Doughty one-timed Voynov’s feed past the Finnish netminder. With a pair of righthanded shooters on the point, Voynov is able to put those types of feeds right into Doughty’s wheelhouse.
-It wasn’t the finest display of puck possession and dictating play by Los Angeles, which was somewhat to be expected when facing a quality opponent in its home opener. For the first two periods time of possession heavily favored the Wild before the Kings were able to steal some momentum through stretches of the third period. Minnesota eventually padded its shots on goal advantage with a late power play and heavy pressure over the waning minutes of regulation – credit Jonathan Quick and Trevor Lewis for preserving the late tie – before settling for a plus-11 shot discrepancy. Los Angeles finished third in the league with an average of 25 shots against per game a season ago and was rarely on the wrong end of a minus-11 shot differential. The Kings faced a minus-11 shot differential only twice in 2012-13 while outshooting their opponents by at least 11 shots 13 times.