The Los Angeles Kings don't have a regulation win yet this season. Cause for concern? Probably. On the bright side, the Kings put forth one of their best efforts of the season on the road, and fully deserved the two points they ended up earning against the Carolina Hurricanes. The concern comes from the fact that, if not for a shorthanded goal in the third period, the Kings would likely have been shut out despite being better in almost every facet of the game. Onward!
The Kings got off to a quick start, all things considered. Anze Kopitar created a good chance for former Hurricane Justin Williams less than a minute in on a nice move around the back of the net. Kopitar continues to look stronger and more aggressive this season. Dwight King (who, yes, was quite good last night) faked out a defender and drove to the net, only to have Cam Ward break up his pass to Jarret Stoll right in front. LA's strong start gave way to an evenly played first period, and Carolina had the two best chances of the first in the latter half. First, Slava Voynov had the puck skip over his stick at the blue line, forcing Jonathan Quick to make a stop on Jordan Staal at the other end. Voynov's been called out in particular, but the Kings have made a bad habit of turnovers creating chances this season. Trevor Lewis joined in when he gave the puck straight to Skinner behind the goal, setting up a good look for Elias Lindholm.
The Kings outshot the Hurricanes in the second period and the game kept its uptempo pace, but chances were few and far between. An early power play went for naught; the Hurricanes used an extremely aggressive penalty kill throughout the game, and LA just couldn't adapt. Aside from that, Los Angeles was playing pretty well. They would end up winning the faceoff battle by a huge margin, outhitting Carolina comfortably, outshooting them, and outchancing them. The Hurricanes were coming off a back-to-back, which helped LA, but it was still perhaps the best all-around effort by the Kings this season. Darryl Sutter agreed when asked what he liked about the Kings' showing:
Everything. Nothing wrong with it at all.
Anyway, we skipped ahead about 30 minutes during that brief summary, to a Canes power play. No, it wasn't Drew Doughty taking a penalty (though he did add to his tally with a cross check earlier), but Jarret Stoll. Darryl Sutter was generous with the penalty kill time, as only Anze Kopitar had a regular shift as a PK forward. Seven other forwards got at least one minute on the ice during penalty kills, and it was the resurgent Dwight King who made a play on the PK to put LA ahead. After Lewis (good aside from that awful turnover) and the D helped clear, King applied pressure and forced a turnover by Justin Faulk. King got a step on Faulk and made a nifty backhand move to beat Ward for his first career shorthanded goal, and first point of the season. He deserved it, too.
The Kings would look to close out the game with six and a half minutes to go, but Jeff Skinner got the goal back 40 seconds later on the same power play. Andrej Sekera's long shot produced a rebound, which Skinner put home immediately to tie the game. Overtime followed, and though the Kings could not convert tonight's 4-on-3 power play as they did against Ottawa, Jeff Carter DID convert his shootout chance with his patented backhand. Quick did what Ward could not, stopping every shot to clinch the victory.
So the current to-do list is simple: score at even strength and win in regulation. The Kings did pretty much everything else right, though, which is encouraging going into a Sunday matinee against the Florida Panthers.