The Golden Knights completed the two-game sweep over the LA Kings this week at STAPLES Center, scoring early and often in a 6-2 victory, the final head-to-head matchup of the season.
Vegas jumped out to a two-goal advantage from a first period that featured four total goals. The Golden Knights scored twice off the rush, first a 2-on-1 goal, with Tomas Nosek keeping the puck himself and beating Jonathan Quick on the glove side, followed by an Alex Tuch wrist shot from the right-hand circle for the 2-0 lead.
The Kings struck back, with a power-play goal, scored by one of two new-look units. Trevor Moore’s shot from the slot deflected off of a Vegas player and past Marc-Andre Fleury to cut the home side’s deficit to one. The lead was short-lived, however, as Vegas struck back with a weird one. Max Pacioretty’s high dump from the blueline took an unfortunate bounce before it reached Quick and skirted in to put the Golden Knights back on top. Cal Petersen entered the game following the third Vegas goal.
Each team scored a five-hole, breakaway goal in the second period to send the game to the second intermission at 4-2 Vegas. First, Pacioretty hit Chandler Stephenson between the defensemen for a breakaway goal for the visitors, before Adrian Kempe fed a streaking Moore for his second goal of the game, on a shot from the left-hand circle. Moore’s goal marked the first time in his career he’s scored twice in an NHL game.
The visitors opened the scoring in the third period as well, as Pacioretty and Mark Stone connected for a one-timer goal, with the Golden Knights’ captain converting from point-blank range to extend the lead to three goals early in the third period. The visitors got the final goal down the stretch, as Alex Pietrangelo’s shot deflected off of a Kings stick and fluttered over Petersen for the 6-2 final.
In total for the game, while shot attempts were relatively level, scoring chances (Vegas +18) and high-danger chances (Vegas +9) heavily favored the visitors. The 37 scoring chances allowed are the most the Kings have given up in a game this season, and the 15 high-danger chances are the second most.
For the season series, the Kings finish at 2-6-0 against their foes from Nevada, with tonight’s game closing the book between the two teams.
Hear from Trevor Moore and Todd McLellan from after tonight’s game.
On what Vegas did so well to create chances tonight
They skate so well, their d-men were beating us up the ice after the forecheck, we just didn’t handle our sort-outs that well. All the credit to them, they’re a good team, big team, fast team, but we’ve got that to work on for sure.
On the encouragement in getting a bump in ice time and role as of late
Yeah, of course. It’s what you work for, you want to earn that kind of thing and I think the last couple of games, I haven’t been that great with that opportunity. I just wanted to make good on the opportunity, show that I’m appreciative of it, and keep pushing forward.
On the focal points heading into another tough series against Colorado
I think Todd can probably answer that better, but just working on our tracking and making sure that guys aren’t getting behind us. Our sort-outs coming back into the zone have to be a lot better, we have to help out our goalies. Our goalies have been great all year and we can’t be letting up these odd-man rushes and giving them free looks.
On what he feels needs to change for the Kings
At times we’re overworking. We’re like kids on a soccer field, we just chase the puck all over the place and the open man is killing us, so sometimes we’re overworking. Sometimes, we’re out of position, sometimes you might not be good enough in certain situations and we’re fighting all of that right now.
On if tonight was an example of Vegas just showcasing their ability, or if he still leaves disappointed in what his team did or didn’t do
Well, you always evaluate your own team, and the disappointment in our group is pretty evident I think. We’re back to the drawing board. We have so many things to fix and so little time that we have to do it. From their perspective, that’s what a real-good team looks like. They come in waves, they execute, they’re patient, they score on their opportunities, they check their asses off, they protect their goaltending…their goaltending was real good when they needed it, and that’s why they’re going to have a chance to win this year.
On Trevor Moore’s increased role as of late, and offensive output tonight
He’s been probably one of our most consistent players, he gives us effort every night. Is he perfect? No, but name a perfect player in the National Hockey League. He works on his game, he understands it, he’s got more offense than we think he does, or than he shows sometimes, and it’s starting to come out. Just his effort night in and night out is something that can rub off on a few others.
On the one or two most pressing areas of focus, considering the little time to do it in
Well, we’ve been trying to get our power play back on track, and maybe shuffling the group up and scoring tonight will help us, we’ll park that for a little while. The puck watching, the puck migration, us as five guys skating to the puck in one area, then skating to the puck in another area, it’s remarkable right now. I don’t know if we just want to work hard and we go hunt puck all over the place, and we have no awareness of what’s going on around us right now. Some of the players that weren’t doing that before started doing it, and we’ve got to find a way to fix that.
On the mood of the team right now
I can’t lie to you guys, we need a little bit of an adjustment there. We worked hard for a number of months right now, we’ve worked hard and we can’t give it back. We may not win as many games as we want, but first of all bring the effort, we’ll help you with the structure and the execution part but you’ve got to absorb some of that and put it into play as a player. Whatever’s happened over the last week has happened, we’ve got to move on, that’s just the way it is. Players come and go all the time, new players come in, we’ve got to find a way to welcome them and they’ve got to find a way to fit in. We’ve got to fix things. It’s not all going to be wins and losses related, the repair work in practice is very limited, we’ve talked ad nauseam about how little time we get, but other teams are fixing things on the fly too. Our group, I don’t know if it’s inexperience that they’ve got to feel it on the ice or walk through it more often than just seeing it visually, but right now, we’re not capturing things and it’s costing us.
– The LA Kings scored a power-play goal for the third time in their last 12 games, the first of Trevor Moore’s NHL career.
– Moore also scored an even-strength goal in the second period for his first career multi-goal game in the NHL.
– Forward Adrian Kempe collected the lone assist on both of Moore’s goals, his second multi-assist and fifth multi-point game of the season.
– After he entered in relief late in the first period, goaltender Cal Petersen made 21 saves on 24 shots.
– With three goals conceded in the first period tonight, the Kings have allowed 49 first-period goals this season and have the league’s second-worst first-period goal differential (-19).
– The Kings killed off the lone Vegas power play of the game, and rank third on the PK this season at 84.5%.
The Kings are scheduled to skate tomorrow morning at Toyota Sports Performance Center, before departing for Colorado.