The Los Angeles Kings like to say that they don't dwell on the past, but I doubt they had forgotten about their 5-1 beatdown at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning a month ago. Last night on home ice, the Kings returned the favor, rolling over the Lightning 5-2.
Overall, it was a dominant first period for the Kings, especially if you focus on a fifteen-minute stretch in the middle of the period. That's because, after the Lightning got the first three shots of the game, they got just one shot over the next 15 minutes. A power play near the end of the frame allowed the Lightning to catch up a bit in the shot department, but the only time Tampa Bay threatened was when Willie Mitchell tipped a Teddy Purcell shot onto the crossbar.
In between, the Kings were excellent. Tyler Toffoli and Jarret Stoll both got stopped by Ben Bishop, who has been great this year; however, Bishop was soon beaten by a combination of the Kings' best forward and the Kings' best defenseman. The first line of the Kings is most frustrating when they're controlling zone time and peppering the opposing goalie with shots, but on this particular goal, they used a textbook breakout and rush to score. Justin Williams fed Drew Doughty on the Kings' half of the ice, and Doughty immediately surged forward into the offensive zone. Just when it looked like Doughty was looking to split the defense to get a shot on goal, he dropped a pass to a trailing Anze Kopitar, who wristed one into the top corner of the net. Bishop appeared to be a bit surprised by the shot, as he waved at it with his blocker but really didn't have a chance to stop it.
LA would add to their lead after Alex Killorn went off for hooking. The first power play unit put together a beautiful minute of maneuvering which led to nothing, but once the next shift started, Slava Voynov threw a puck at the net and Matt Frattin skillfully tipped it past Bishop to put the Kings up 2-0. It stayed that way until intermssion. The Lightning were in trouble, but after they got a shot 0:35 into the second period, they only managed one over the remaining 19:25. Not exactly a good way to make a comeback.
Meanwhile, LA picked up right where they left off on their next power play. The man advantage was actually pretty ugly for 1:55 or so, but then Drew Doughty got the puck. Just as he had on the first Kings goal, Doughty showed off some stickhandling and stretched the defense. This time, he actually did split a couple defenders, but Justin Williams whacked at the puck before Doughty could shoot. It wasn't exactly a shot, but it deflected off of Matt Carle before the unfortunate Alex Killorn dragged the puck into the net with his leg. Tampa Bay went right back on the penalty kill for four minutes, and though they made it through unscathed, the shorthanded time kept them from making any sort of move to get back into the game.
The Lightning would finally get on the board on a double minor power play late in the period, but befitting their miserable night, they gave up a shorthanded goal before they managed to score on said power play. The four minutes came thanks to a bizarre Jake Muzzin penalty; Muzzin lost his balance battling in the corner and somehow managed to take a full baseball swing with his stick. Totally inadvertent, but his stick crushed Martin St. Louis (happy 1000th game, Marty!) in the face and drew blood. The Kings' PK was excellent for the first minute, and Dwight King and Linden Vey hounded the Lightning into their own zone. Ben Bishop tried to ring the puck around the boards, but Vey got to it before anyone else and threw it to the front, where King tipped it in.
Tampa Bay would finally score a minute later, as good puck movement gave Valteri Filppula a wide-open net and ended the Ben Scrivens shutout streak. Still, the Professor's streak spanned over three full games; mighty impressive. The goal also didn't matter much, because Dustin Brown scored less than a minute after that goal. Appropriately, it came after Brown threw a big hit in the corner and helped force a turnover to Matt Frattin; Frattin delivered a pass to Brown alone in the high slot, and Brown took a moment before beating Bishop near side for his first goal in... get this... EIGHTEEN games. Good for the struggling Brown, as well as the more-struggling Frattin.
Given LA's 5-1 lead, the third was anticlimactic. A ton of unsurprising things happened; the Kings sat on their lead, the Lightning got more shots and picked up a meaningless goal (via Victor Hedman), LA had a hairy stretch midway through, Daniel Carcillo took a cross-checking penalty, etc. Hedman's goal deflected off of Alec Martinez, and the reaction from Scrivens summed up the Kings' comfort level; Ben spun around comically before tapping Martinez's leg in a "Don't worry about it" gesture. When the buzzer went off, the Kings had earned a comprehensive 5-2 win over the (former) Eastern Conference leaders. Not even Steven Stamkos would have changed this result. Surely, this four-game winning streak has put the Kings considerably higher in the Pacific Division standings...
OH, COME ON
More from Jewels From The Crown:
- Game Day #22: Kings-Lightning Preview
- LA Kings' Top 25 Under 25: #4- Jake Muzzin
- This Week in Kings (11/18/13)
- Kings @ Rangers: Grades and Analysis
- Kings @ Rangers Recap: Scrivens Gets 2nd Straight Shutout as LA Wins 1-0