For the third time in November, the Los Angeles Kings outshot an opponent by at least 20 shots. For the third time, they lost while doing so. Hockey isn't fair. Fortunately (I guess?), the Kings were able to grab a point, but the New Jersey Devils walked out of Staples with a 2-1 win after a Jaromir Jagr goal in overtime.
(Milestone note: It was Jagr's 121st game-winning goal, tying the NHL record. Good for him! No, I don't feel better.)
The Kings set the tone for this game early, testing Cory Schneider, early, often, and unsuccessfully. LA picked up 14 shots in the first period, and only allowed two. Two! While it's easy and convenient to make the argument that the Kings might have just been throwing pucks at the net without being threatening, it simply wasn't true last night. LA got a whopping nine scoring chances in the first period, six of them while playing 5-on-5. There were shots from all four lines (Good try, Linden Vey! You get stopped twice, Matt Frattin!) and the defense (Too bad, Jake Muzzin! Keep trying, Drew Doughty!) There was a six-shot power play after Frattin was tripped, and the Devils' only power play resulted in a single shot on goal... for the Kings. The usual cycling by the first line was there, too, as well as a hallmark of scoreless Kings periods: a breakaway for Trevor Lewis! But Cory Schneider stopped everything, and the only occasion for cheering was when Daniel Carcillo sort-of-beat Cam Janssen in a fight.
Second period? Same as the first. Shots were 12-3, so I guess the Devils improved, but it was another dominant showing by the Kings. Matt Frattin (wearing a full face-guard after getting face-stitched) drew two more penalties, but Schneider kept dethroning LA on every chance. At the other end, Ben Scrivens didn't pull a Kari Lehtonen and sit on top of the net, but I wouldn't have blamed him if he did. I'll let Nick reveal the additional scoring chance facts and figures in his roundup, but just know that LA piled them up and the Devils, um, did not.
So we move to the third. The agony continued very early on as Anze Kopitar beat Cory Schneider, but not the post, with a wrister just seconds in. A pretty soft roughing call on Ryan Carter resulted in a pretty dreadful Kings power play, though it did at least lead to a moment of hilarity when Steve Bernier went to the box mistakenly thinking he was getting a penalty, then went to the locker room mistakenly thinking he was getting ejected. He was neither penalized nor ejected for his hit on Willie Mitchell, and the Devils killed the two minute penalty. Carter would come back to get the Devils' first shot of the third 5:39 in, and thirteen seconds later, his next shot put New Jersey ahead. Carter took a pass from Michael Ryder and took a backhand; Willie Mitchell was parked in front of Ben Scrivens at just the wrong moment, and Scrivens never saw the puck until it was past him.
LA snapped out of their funk very quickly to tie the game just a minute later; Anze Kopitar shot the puck on a 2-on-1, and it trickled under the arm of Schneider for Justin Williams to tap in. Kopitar and the first line continued their strong play through the final period, while the Devils got one more power play chance, but neither team would score again in regulation. Overtime took an early twist as Jaromir Jagr held Dustin Brown, but Brown apparently sold the call enough to merit his own penalty as well. Not sure I've ever seen an embellishment called in overtime, and this one was far from Brown's worst. So both players went to the box, leading to TWO FULL MINUTES OF 3-ON-3! It was exhilirating, and putting it in would probably cut down on shootouts by 80%. The game-winning goal, however, came just after the penalties expired; Kopitar made his worst mistake all season by attempting a blind pass which was picked off. The Devils brought it the other way, Jagr got a pass from Marek Zidlicky in front, and Dustin Brown couldn't keep Jagr from making a nifty move and beating Scrivens under the pad. Jagr went in the history books, and the Kings returned to the loss column.
There are worse things than an overtime loss, but it still stings, especially since it is, again, the third time a game like this has gone against LA this month. By the way, the Kings are 6-0 in November when not outshooting their opponents by 20+ shots.
Silver lining? The ending could have been much more humiliating.