Waking up with the Kings: January 5
Trailing Vancouver 1-0 after two periods and contending with a composed night in net by Roberto Luongo, Los Angeles struck twice in the third period before adding an empty netter by virtue of a pair of plays that illustrated their superior play along the boards. Jason Garrison, who perhaps was overexposed in his 25:56 of ice time as the Canucks virtually relied on four defensemen, was victimized twice. The first goal began on a simple rim-around by Dustin Brown when Jarret Stoll tied up Garrison’s stick below the right wing hash marks, allowing the puck to reach Justin Williams. He snapped the puck quickly towards the net, and Brown buried a rebound off Luongo’s pad in a similar fashion to his goal in a 1-0 Kings win in Game 3 of the 2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals. For the game-winning goal, Jeff Carter chipped a puck in front of the benches to spring Dwight King loose for an opportunity that Garrison certainly had an opportunity to quash. Slow to react when the puck crossed the red line, Garrison was reaching and not in a sturdy position to play the puck when King lifted his stick and effortlessly stole the puck from him before feeding Carter, who had jumped back into the play and was unmarked by Kevin Bieksa.
It was a fitting result. The Kings were the much better team through the majority of Saturday’s game, and having outshot the Canucks 45-21 at even strength, the third period surge was a result of continuing to stick with the game plan and showing unwavering faith in the team’s systems despite the scoring drought. It also negated the unwelcome development in which Los Angeles outplayed their opponents early yet trailed at the first intermission – a characteristic of four of the team’s last five games.
This is an interesting homestand for the trajectory of season, and it was important for the Kings to open it up with a win. The trade of Daniel Carcillo to New York will not be the only move made prior to the trading deadline, and this upcoming set of games could have an impact of the scope of a potential deal. The Kings are still in heavy need of secondary scoring, and though the team scored three times in the third period last night, no Kings player outside of the team’s top six forwards has scored since Alec Martinez and Tyler Toffoli scored second period goals in a 4-1 win over San Jose on December 19. Following those goals, the last 13 goals scored by the Kings have come from Carter, King, Carter, Williams, Williams, Stoll (who was playing as a top-six forward in the home loss to Dallas), Kopitar, Carter, Carter, Kopitar, Brown, Carter, Carter.
Jonathan Quick was excellent from the first long, sneaky wristshot by Kevin Bieksa a minute into the game through the dual saves he made on Daniel Sedin with 35 seconds remaining after the winger generated two quality opportunities after receiving a pinpoint, spinning backhanded pass from Henrik Sedin. He was beaten once on the power play; throughout the full 60 minutes he appeared to be in mid-January mode. The Kings are carrying three goalies, and should a trade for Ben Scrivens materialize in the near future, Martin Jones will remain on as the back-up. In the absence of such a trade, Jones will return to Manchester, as he has options remaining and would not have to clear waivers. Are trade winds a blowin’?