It’s a sweep! For the first time this season, the Kings have taken both games from a two-game set, with back-to-back victories over the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Tonight’s victory marks four straight for the Kings, who have points in five consecutive games. The regulation win has vaulted Los Angeles into a tie for fourth place in the West Division standings.
Even-strength scoring opportunities were at a premium tonight, with a tight neutral zone, especially in the first 40 minutes. The Kings got two goals on special teams, one on the man advantage, one while shorthanded, but also conceded twice to the Arizona power play. A goal from Gabriel Vilardi, a snipe from in between the circles midway through the third period, was the difference as the Kings were able to close the door down the stretch.
Alex Iafallo scored twice, including a power-play goal and an empty-net goal, while defenseman Drew Doughty tallied a pair of assists in the victory. Doughty moved into a tie for second in the NHL in points amongst defensemen with the multi-point effort. Trevor Moore also scored on the penalty kill and now has points in four of his last six games played.
Cal Petersen provided stout goaltending – a theme amongst both LA netminders on the recent run – as he earned his third victory of the season with 22 saves on 24 shots faced.
The Kings have improved to 7-6-3 with tonight’s win, starting their current six-game roadtrip with consecutive victories. It’s off to St. Louis, where the Kings will face the early-season West Division leading Blues in a pair of games, beginning on Monday evening.
Hear from shootout hero Doughty, Iafallo and Todd McLellan from after tonight’s game.
On the team’s defensive effort tonight, especially down the stretch
Defense has a huge part in that win, the last couple of shifts, everybody was putting their body on the line and that’s what we needed.
On the team’s ability to shut down late in the game
We’ve been working on it, just trying to get it quick out of the middle on the defense, trying to take shots and sticks away. I feel like everybody was doing that and communicating in that way.
On his power-play goal, and the PP in general
We’ve been trying to work on [attacking off the rush] too. If we have an opportunity to attack, make sure we get a good chance out of it. We had a couple of breakout plays, Juice made a nice play to me and I just had to shoot it.
On if the mood of the group is hight right now
Oh for sure. Everybody’s having a good time and as long as we put the work in on the ice here, it’s fun off the ice. The wins definitely help in that aspect.
On the importance of getting two goals on special teams tonight
It was huge, obviously, because we gave up two on the power play. At the end of the day, all of those special-teams goals cancelled each other out, it was the 5-on-5 goal that made the difference. The power play did a good enough job tonight to score a goal, it was off a rush, which we haven’t had many like that. The penalty kill, I thought we overworked ourselves with a couple of penalties we didn’t need to take, but we did take them. The last one, we’ve got a young d-man with the puck on his tape and it didn’t go his way, he waited too long to make a play, but that’s as part of learning. The fact that we were able to score one power-play goal, and one shortie, makes a huge difference for our group.
On if he’s seen momentum carry over game-to-game on the winning streak
Yes, and we’ve been able to insert different players into different roles, because of injuries or whatever, and those players seem to step up. It was a four-line game again for most of the night, everyone contributed and all six [defenseman] played and were effective. That’s always a good thing. You gain confidence with wins, and you lose confidence when you lose games. Having a bit of swagger, without arrogance is always a good thing for a hockey club. I don’t think we’re anywhere near arrogance, but perhaps we have a little bit of swagger, we believe in each other, but let’s face it, none of these wins were easy, nor will they be moving forward, it’s the NHL.
On Drew Doughty and his play so far this season
30 minutes a night, we appreciate Drew’s abilities. He’s really had an outstanding season so far in my mind, both offensively and defensively, leadership wise, everything about his game right now is in a good spot. Not only has he been able to take care of himself on the ice, but he’s been able to manage playing with a young defenseman for a lot of the season right now and he’s making him a better player.
On if this series sets the team up well to face a similar team in St. Louis
You know, I haven’t even thought that far ahead yet, but it’s a good point you make. Our pre-scouts for these games against Arizona were obviously St. Louis, they played seven in a row and those were close, tight-checking games, both teams played well in them. If anything, it helps us because we’ve watched them play. We’ve played two games against St. Louis already, they were hard, heavy games, they’re going to be that way again. Perhaps the answer to your question is yes, it will help us.
– LA Kings Assistant Equipment Manager Dana Bryson worked his 1500th career professional hockey game. Bryson, who joined the Kings before the 2005-06 season, has also worked in the AHL with Manchester and Providence.
– The Kings have won four consecutive games, and have points in five straight games, to move over the .500 mark for the second time this season at 7-6-3. The Kings moved into a tie for fourth in the West Division with tonight’s victory.
– Anze Kopitar extended his scoring streak to seven games with an assist in the second period. The point pushed Kopitar into the Top 10 in the NHL in scoring this season, as the first player in the West Division to reach 20 points (4-16-20).
– With two assists tonight, defenseman Drew Doughty now has 15 points on the season (4-11-15), tied for second in the NHL amongst all blueliners.
– Gabriel Vilardi scored his third goal of the season, and extended his point streak to three games, with the game-winning goal in the third period tonight. Jeff Carter had the primary assist on the play, extending his own scoring streak to four games.
– With Alex Iafallo’s second-period tally, the Kings have now scored a power-play goal in four of their last five games, with six goals in total over that stretch.
– Andreas Athanasiou returned to the Kings lineup this evening, after he missed the team’s past eight games. Athanasiou logged 11:47 in total ice time, including 0:47 on the power play, and the Kings are 4-2-2 when he plays this season.
The Kings have a full team off-day tomorrow and will return to the ice for morning skate on Monday in St. Louis.