There was a great battle tonight in LA. On one side, the Los Angeles Kings' recent history of struggling mightily against bad teams. On the other side, the natural tendency of those same Kings to prove us all wrong, if only for a night.
The Kings do play down to their competition pretty often, and they did to an extent tonight. But it was no match for four off-days of stewing and concern on our humble blog. I mean, in hindsight, there was no way Jonathan Quick wasn't getting a shutout tonight.
Enough about us, though. The Buffalo Sabres put up a good fight and got more scoring chances than anyone would have liked, but Quick stopped them all, and the Kings' power play found the two goals LA needed to grab a win.
The Kings hadn't gotten the first goal of the game in two weeks, and the Sabres had a few great chances to keep that streak going. Marcus Foligno had not one, but two chances in tight on Jonathan Quick, but his trusty left pad came through twice. Soon after, with the fourth line on the ice, a Sabres shot seemed destined for the back of the net after getting past a flailing Quick, but was blocked by... another Sabre. Excellent.
Linden Vey was jostling with the Sabre who ended up blocking his teammate's shot, and that was the first of many times Vey seemed to be doing exactly what he needed to be doing tonight. No highlight-reel plays (I guess we'll patiently wait a little longer for his Tomas Hertl moment), but Vey got power play and penalty kill time, and even took a couple shifts away from his original fourth line later on. Fellow rook Tyler Toffoli, on the other hand, picked up an assist on one power play and hit the crossbar on another.
The Sabres found another couple scoring chances, but one more time, they were foiled by someone other than Jonathan Quick. This time, it was Trevor Lewis. With Quick stacking the pads after an initial save, Ville Leino attempted to shoot high, but Lewis skated into the crease and took the shot to his midsection. LA would get their best chances on a power play near the end of the period after Tyler Myers took a penalty (this was a theme), and they would take advantage after a couple of Sabres clears. After the Kings held the puck in a couple times, Tyler Toffoli fed Jake Muzzin, who used a favorite move of Drew Doughty's: winding up for a slapper and not shooting for a couple seconds. That often seems to lead to a blocked shot, but Muzzin's move allowed the shooting lane to clear for a slapper. Mike Richards tipped the shot past Jhonas Enroth, and the Kings were on the board with 35 seconds left in the period.
After some initial pressure which included a Quick save on Matt Moulson and a Daniel Carcillo offensive-zone penalty, LA seized control of the contest. Power plays helped, and when the Kings drew two penalties with Robyn Regehr in the box, the ensuing 4-on-3 worked like a charm. Good movement from Mike Richards and a great cross-ice pass from Drew Doughty set up a great look for Anze Kopitar. And Kopitar buried it.
Actually, he whiffed partially, but he got enough of it to get it past Enroth. While Ryan Miller (probably) stewed on the bench, the Kings had a 2-0 lead, and Jonathan Quick had no intention of letting that go. Tyler Myers attempted to get his team going with a fight, but he could've picked a much better player to go after than Matt Frattin. Frattin had just delivered a big open-ice hit, and Myers took offense; however, with Frattin not in the mood, Myers jostled him, held him, and dropped his gloves and started punching in order to get a response. Frattin responded by wrestling the 6'8" Myers to the ice, and Myers got the extra two minutes for holding; good going!
LA wouldn't score on that power play or on the one that followed Myers' next penalty, a high stick on Frattin. (That doesn't count as revenge, Tyler.) Buffalo would get one more opportunity, after Anze Kopitar was forced to slash Corey Tropp in front of an open net, but the PK did its job one more time. From there, the Kings coasted, and the absence of Carter, Greene, and Stoll was a non-issue. Not to say that it was a great performance, and guys like Dan Carcillo and Jake Muzzin could be in trouble when they return. Regardless, the Kings looked comfortable with their two-goal lead and seem to have benefited from a few days off. And Quick bumped his save percentage up to .901; what goaltending struggles?
More from Jewels From The Crown:
- Game Day #16: Kings-Sabres Preview
- Weekly Discussion: One Month is in the Books. Here Are Our Thoughts.
- 9/29/2007 Ducks @ Kings: Grades and Analysis
- Kings Links: All Quiet on the Western Front
- Jonathan Quick's Awful Year