Joy in Edmonton tonight. - Derek Leung
With Los Angeles and Edmonton going down to the wire, it was the Kings who came through in the final minute. Jeff Carter's deflection and a late empty-netter gave the Kings a deserved 3-1 victory, as Jonathan Quick was outstanding.
It never seemed to happen in the past, but once again, the Los Angeles Kings scored a massive goal with under a minute left. The first time, Slava Voynov sent the Vancouver game to OT. The second, Alec Martinez appeared to send the Detroit game to OT. Tonight on the road against the Edmonton Oilers, the Kings decided to make their late goal a game-winner instead. Jeff Carter tipped in a Trevor Lewis shot with 49 seconds left to put the Kings up 2-1, and an empty-netter sealed the deal. It was a big two points, a measure of revenge for the teams' first matchup, and a huge boost as the Kings continue on their road trip.
The scoreless first period was a bit off the usual script; the Kings didn't control the early play as much as they would have liked, but they also didn't concede an early goal. Not that the Oilers' main threats didn't have their chances; the Taylor Hall/Ryan Nugent-Hopkins/Jordan Eberle line was buzzing early on, and after Eberle hit a crossbar early on, Jonathan Quick was forced to make a big save on Hall and Carter had to hook Eberle to prevent a goal. The Kings' first line of Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, and
Justin Williams ("PSYCH!" - Darryl Sutter) also generated some chances but couldn't score, and shots were 9-8 at the end of a scoreless first period.
The Kings took the lead in the second, after a long-awaited first goal of the season for... Colin Fraser! The fourth line got a dirty goal from the former Oiler and recent healthy scratch, as he knocked in a loose puck after Jordan Nolan threw the puck on net. Bad news for Simon Gagne and the other "bubble" forwards, but good news for LA. The Kings would go on to dominate the second-period shots as they have done all year, putting 15 shots on Nikolai Khabibulin compared to Edmonton's 8. But, in a familiar and cruel twist, the Oilers tied it up, and Los Angeles had nothing to show for its control. Edmonton got a power play when Jeff Carter hooked Eberle again, and Davis Drewiske's delay-of-game penalty put the Kings two men down. They survived the 5-on-3, but after Doughty nearly scored on a fluke bounce off the boards, Sam Gagner scored a 5-on-4 goal on a slightly tipped, slightly screened shot at 16:50.
The 1-1 score held up through an exciting third period. Quick made the biggest save early in the third on Hall's bid from alone in the slot, but Khabibulin was up to the challenge as well, on his way to a 35-save night. Dustin Brown also made himself known with a big hit on Nugent-Hopkins, but the temporary excitement generated still didn't lead to a breakthrough. The clock struck one minute, and visions of Nail Yakupov surely danced through the heads of the fans at Rexall Place. But it was not to be...
Trevor Lewis took the puck after Edmonton could not get the puck in deep (thanks partially to the linesman at the blue line who got in the way). Lewis casually entered into the zone and slowed down as Jeff Carter drove to the net. The hard pass/shot from Lewis was beautifully placed, and Carter redirected the puck down low and past Khabibulin. To the disappointment of anyone who for some reason is still mad at Yakupov, Carter played it cool... probably because he's used to this by now. Nonetheless, it was a goal of massive importance, and the Kings had their lead. LA decided not to gamble with their one-goal advantage this time, and Jarret Stoll scored an empty-netter from center ice to provide the final margin.
Oh, and the @LAKings Twitter account got back to their Western Canadian trolling ways. This will probably provide a story for a bored Canadian hockey writer tomorrow, so that's good. In the meantime, it's a win for us, and it was definitely reassuring to see a stellar performance from Jonathan Quick. Quick now has 60 saves on 63 shots against Edmonton this year, and though we may see Bernier get the second game in the back-to-back against Calgary, it's got to be a good sign going forward. But there's still plenty of room for improvement, starting tomorrow versus the Flames.