Back-to-Back Smiles! - Derek Leung
It's a happy return to the Saddledome as Jonathan Bernier stops 26 of 27 shots and Dustin Brown, Trevor Lewis, and Jeff Carter score for the Kings. After almost a third of the season, the Kings are above .500 for the first time.
Back-to-back? What back-to-back? One night after squeaking one out in Edmonton, the Los Angeles Kings buckled down and took care of business in a fairly convincing victory over the Calgary Flames. It was another 3-1 win in the books, and the shot margin wasn't too far off from yesterday's, but on the ice it was a totally different story. Against another team out of the playoffs, the Kings started fast, locked up the home team on defense, and were in control of the game throughout. It didn't hurt that Jonathan Bernier was excellent, despite being called upon quite a bit for key saves.
The first period saw three goals! It's like we were watching Philly and Pittsburgh going at it! After Bernier and waiver pickup/Danny Taylor replacement Joey MacDonald eased their way into the action with some routine saves, Anze Kopitar engineered the opening goal. The first line did some great forechecking work, and from behind the net, Kopitar found Dustin Brown. Brown picked the corner over the right shoulder for his fourth goal of the year, and the Kings led... for ten minutes or so. A Jake Muzzin giveaway kicked off an atrocious defensive sequence, as every King on the ice lost track of TJ Brodie. A pass from Jarome Iginla gave Brodie a full two or three seconds to cruise towards the net, and his shot beat Bernier down low past the skate. So the Flames were tied... for thirty seconds or so. Jeff Carter got two shots at Joey MacDonald, and the second took a long rebound off of MacDonald's pad. Yeah, even his assists are shots. Trevor Lewis took the rebound, spun, and he wristed the puck above, yep, MacDonald's right shoulder. Oh, and Rob Scuderi got assists on both goals. He does it all.
Now, I feel like I can copy the second period summary from most of this season's game recaps. Robert, a little help?
EV shot attempts in the 2nd period were heavily tilited in the Kings favor 25-4 (!). For the game it's 47-20 #lakings— Robert JftC (@RobertJFTC) February 21, 2013
Yeah. On the bright side for the Flames: they blocked a ton of shots, their third-ranked power play had some good looks, and Iginla was buzzing... he had nine shots on the night. But Bernier was up to the task, and he would continue to be for the rest of the evening. Meanwhile, the majority of the period belonged to the Kings, but they just couldn't find the net. Kopitar had some great opportunities, but the Kopitar-Brown was denied a second goal by MacDonald's pad late in the second and the score remained 2-1.
The first half of the third was a clinic on defense, in wonderful contrast to the defensive scrambles of the first. Calgary had one shot in the first ten minutes, and as the Kings slowly turned the screws, they eventually managed to get some pressure. The third goal was a Richards-Carter special; Richards wheeled around by the boards and found a streaking (he's always doing that) Carter up the middle. Carter used his patented quick-release wrist shot, and MacDonald couldn't make the stop as both players recorded their 10th points of the season. Jonathan Bernier did the rest, stopping 11 in a row in the final ten minutes on his way to a 26-save effort.
The Kings broke .500 (well, sort of) as they moved to 7-6-2 on the year. Amazing what happens when you win faceoffs (40 of 62 tonight), get good goaltending, and find the net once in a while. It still doesn't feel like the Kings have put it all together, but after a rough start, the Kings are beating the teams they should be beating, and have been competitive against the best teams on the road. Now, the Kings get to play eight of nine games at home. Get some more strong play from Quick and Bernier, and hey, it might be time to make a move in the Western Conference standings.