Waking up with the Kings: February 27 - LA Kings Insider

One of the better parts of Hockey Beat Writer Twitter is that Spaceballs references are still very much in vogue 31 years after the movie was released. There are always applicable references. For one, the first period of last night’s game was played at Ludicrous Speed, and it was, especially for the first 4:37, a breathtaking exchange of pace and scoring chances. And after the Golden Knights won a defensive zone draw and caught the Kings flat-footed in transition (perhaps as they expected a puck deflection to be won in the other direction), Erik Haula’s two-on-one wrister was a reminder that this was the type of game that would probably benefit the Kings were it to evolve into a display of strong puck management and possession, and not lightning-quick counter attacks. It ultimately did evolve towards that in Los Angeles’ well-played and calmed-down second period, but the Kings weren’t able to generate any substantial pressure from high-danger areas or enter the zone with any real threatening ability, and by the end of the period their momentum was blunted as they were forced to kill off multiple penalties. And, by that point, any sort of marginal territorial advantage was weighed against the fact that Jonathan Quick was keeping Los Angeles in the game, even as Marc-Andre Fleury was turning in a special performance at the other end of the ice, as well.

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

But Quick and the Kings killed off those dicey shorthanded moments, and as they entered the third period trailing by a goal in a game well played by both sides, it did seem as though the final 20 minutes would provide a prime opportunity to respond with emotional catharsis that’s often palpable when late season turning points seem to be materializing before they actually are. For one isolated example, last year, in Jonathan Quick’s first game back, it just felt as though the team would erupt with a 20 minute release of anger and emotion and will. Reilly Smith laughed at such narratives. But one shift does not end a game, and in a friendlier bounce than the ones that had worked against the Kings recently, Jeff Carter called bank off both Fleury and Cody Eakin, and all of a sudden the team was one needle-threaded Dion Phaneuf pass to Anze Kopitar away from tying the game with a furious push in the final seconds. Shortly before Quick denied Alex Tuch’s three-on-one bid, there was also a terrific push by Kopitar, Phaneuf, Alec Martinez, Dustin Brown and Tanner Pearson late in the third that continued to force Vegas back on its heels and set the stage for the furious last-gasp barrage.

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

There were two intelligent plays that set up Brown’s terrific hands-in-front-of-the-net-while-taking-a-hit game-winner. The first was when a loose puck caromed to Jeff Carter, and he pushed it forward into an open area where his speed or Tobias Rieder’s would be able to make a play on it. It led to Colin Miller hooking his stick in/around Rieder’s hands, and Rieder did a good job of immediately latching onto the stick to provide a strong visual. It was a bit of a borderline call, but if a stick comes up into an opponent’s hands, the infracting player is placing himself in a position where something might get called. From there, Brown’s tried and true net-front presence yet again provided dividends, allowing the Kings to win an important and relatively evenly played home game. The Kings are 15-11-3 at home this year, and if they’re going to be a playoff team, with 12 home games remaining out of 19 games total, they’re going to need to continue to push that home record well above .500. Monday’s game, against a very strong opponent, was an important step towards doing so.

Adam Pantozzi/NHLI

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Jake Muzzin

#6 | 6′ 3″ | 216 lb | Age: 27

Born: Feb 21, 1989
Birthplace: Woodstock, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Left

Bio

Muzzin was drafted in 2007 by the Pittsburgh Penguins, before signing to the Kings in 2010. He has since become the first Woodstock, Ontario professional athlete to win a major sports trophy.
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Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left

Bio

As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

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Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right

Bio

Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

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Tyler Toffoli

#73 | 6′ 1″ | 200 lb | Age: 24

Born: April 24, 1992
Birthplace: Scarborough, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Toffoli is a Canadian professional ice hockey forward, drafted by the Kings in the second round of the 2010 Draft. Toffoli scored his first career NHL goal in his second game in a 4–0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. He was also named the 2012–13 AHL All-Rookie Team.
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Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right

Bio

Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

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Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left

Bio

Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.

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