It was not the most picturesque victory of the season for the LA Kings, but when push comes to shove, two points and a second straight victory on the road is a lot better than a picturesque defeat.
The Kings did what they needed to do, and came away with a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. With 32 saves on 33 shots on goal, netminder Cal Petersen delivered his finest performance of the season, with several key stops to earn the victory. The line of Carl Grundstrom – Michael Amadio – Trevor Moore, on a night when the top line was held off the scoreboard, came up with the game-winning goal in the third period, the cherry on top of what was a strong effort from that unit throughout the game.
Defenseman Kurtis MacDermid also got on the board tonight, with his first goal of the season. MacDermid was the facilitator of the play from start to end, as he transitioned the puck from his own end through the neutral zone, fed Jeff Carter for a successful zone entry, and drove the net to finish the play, top-shelf nonetheless.
The Kings survived a few dicey moments in the final 40 minutes, missed on a coaches challenge that resulted in not only a goal against, but also a penalty kill afterwards, and through it all made it two straight road wins. The team is now above the .500 mark for the first time since the last game of the 2017-18 season, a big step for a team that has made some serious strides this season.
Hear from MacDermid, Petersen and Todd McLellan after tonight’s game.
On getting two straight wins on the road
It’s huge, I think, anytime you’re able to get points on the road. You usually have to battle crowds and different fans and stuff like that, but it’s just the day-to-day grind of being on the road. I think we’re really confident at home, and being on the road brings another different element, so any wins that we can get are huge. Hopefully, we can keep a little bit of this momentum going.
On getting a couple huge blocks late in the game, and those plays helping to win the game
Any big win, where there’s a scramble at the end of a team pulls the goalie, I think you can always come back to big blocks as the reason that the puck never gets to me. Honestly, the further away it is from me the better, so any time guys are sacrificing their bodies, you know you have the right guys on the ice, guys that want to win at all costs. Those were huge blocks, and we’ll take them and that’s the reason that we win hockey games at the end.
On feeling more in control in tonight’s game
Yeah, I mean I approach it the same way, I think it’s more approaching it each game. It’s been a while since we’ve played hockey, and I think any game experience I can get I’m just trying to get better with each game. I think, so far this season, in each performance that I’ve put forward, I’ve felt like I’ve been a little better with each performance and. Now, things are starting to come together a little bit. To be able to win is the main thing, and any time we can do that, I feel confident in my game.
On the play of the Grundstrom – Amadio – Moore line tonight
They were very good again. They had an impact at both ends of the rink, I thought they carried a couple of our other lines when they needed it. I felt confident about putting them on the ice late in the game, obviously got us the winner, so there were a lot of boxes that those three checked again tonight. Right now, they’re confident, they should be confident, they feel good about playing with each other, I think they’re beginning to gel. Everything about them right now is good, so let’s keep it going as long as we can, and reward them with more ice time when we can.
On winning tonight without playing their best hockey
We won, not the way we want to win tonight, but a win is a win. I thought that the first period, we played a pretty strong, aggressive game, but the power play let us down a little bit, but [Minnesota’s] one of the top penalty-killing units in the league. I thought the script got flipped on us in the second, but in the third, when we were playing from behind, I thought they were really aggressive. The trenches, the stick battles, the body blows in the corner, little 2, 3-foot plays, I think we need to get much better in those areas against this team, and a lot of other teams. We’re capable of it, we’ve just got to get more other guys in.
On Cal Petersen’s performance tonight
I would say that Cal had his best game of the season and that Cal performed like he did last year when he came up. I remember playing in Vegas, he had an outstanding night, and especially on the road, sometimes your goaltender has to play a really strong game and I thought Cal gave us that tonight. Hats off to him and I really thought he looked like he did last year. Missing a week, coming into the season, when you only have two weeks of training camp, missing a week of training camp for a goaltender isn’t easy. You can see Walker, MacDermid and him starting to get their legs and get into really game speed and game shape if you will – not that they’re unconditioned – but mentally into it at that pace and intensity.
On being able to spread ice time more throughout the lineup
Yeah, I would like to have the ability to trust 12 forwards and six defensemen. I think it’s phenomenal for team building when your fourth-line guys can go out and give you such good minutes, that the bench is so excited and cheering for them. It’s really rewarding that way. On nights when Kopi or our top six maybe isn’t quite as polished, they’ve got to pick up the slack a bit, and that certainly happened with Amadio’s line tonight.
– With tonight’s victory, the Kings improved to 3-2-2 on the season, putting the team above the .500 mark for the first time since the final game of the 2017-18 season.
– The Kings scored the first goal tonight for the first time this season.
– Neither team scored in tonight’s first period, marking the first time this season that the Kings have played a period without a goal for or against.
– Defenseman Kurtis MacDermid scored his first goal of the season and his first goal overall since February 12 of last season.
– Forward Carl Grundstrom scored for the second consecutive game, the second time in his NHL career that he’s scored in consecutive games. The first, which came in March 2019, was in his first two NHL games.
– With an assist on MacDermid’s goal, forward Jeff Carter collected his fifth point (1-4-5) in the season-series against Minnesota, leading all skaters.
– With the primary assist on Grundstrom’s goal, Trevor Moore collected his third helper of the season, moving him into a tie for third on the Kings in assists this season.
– Cal Petersen was named as tonight’s first star with 32 saves on 33 shots in tonight’s win, his first victory of the 2020-21 season.
The Kings are back in action for a 1 PM practice tomorrow afternoon in Minnesota.