A funny thing happened in Colorado last night. The Los Angeles Kings won a game, thanks exclusively to their offense!
For the first time since October 30, LA allowed three goals or more in a win. So the odds were long after Colorado's third goal of the game, which occurred before the halfway point. The fourth goal made it a real challenge. Thankfully, the Kings stepped up and came back for a 6-4 win.
Showing that even Robert's most ridiculous predictions cause good things to happen, Robyn Regehr got the opening goal. Nathan MacKinnon half-heartedly tried to block Regehr's wrist shot but ended up providing a distraction, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere couldn't make the stop. It was pretty well-placed though, so give the man some credit! Kopitar set up the goal for his first point of the night, and Toffoli also picked up an assist. A few minutes later, a Regehr cross-check the Kings on the penalty kill. For the rest of the night, that area would be a bit of a nightmare for the Kings.
First it was Nick Holden, attempting vainly to push Martin Jones across the goal line with the puck in the crease. The Avs celebrated despite the puck never going in, but it didn't matter too much; Ryan O'Reilly deked Jones and scored after a rapid-fire series of passes less than a minute later. The remaining Colorado Avalanche power plays would go like this:
- Justin Williams, high-sticking (1:11, 2nd): Avalanche get three shots, though Jeff Carter gets the best chance at the other end on a breakaway.
- Jeff Carter, holding (7:23, second): Duchene feeds Ryan O'Reilly, who sets up a driving Jamie McGinn for a tip past Martin Jones.
- Dustin Brown, goaltender interference (14:02, second): Andre Benoit and Willie Mitchell are in front of the crease and the puck is directed in; replays are inconclusive as to whether it was kicked, so Benoit gets the goal and puts his team up 2.
- Matt Greene, kneeing (16:36, third): They survived this one, though it wasn't easy. More on that later.
At this point, it was a 4-2 game. Near the end of the first, P.A. Parenteau had scored after Matt Duchene outmuscled a helpless Tanner Pearson and delivered a perfect pass to the front. And before the flurry of second-period penalties, Dustin Brown had missed a breakaway but set up Jarret Stoll for a goal with a pinpoint pass of his own. But the power play goals put LA on their heels, and it was apparent that they needed at least one goal in the final minutes of the second period to have a chance. They'd end up getting two.
First, Anze Kopitar continued his fantastic play (NHL and Olympics included!) by recovering a puck at one side of Giguere's crease, attempting a wraparound at the other side, and knocking in a rebound. Then, two minutes later, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter combined for the equalizer, with Slava Voynov getting the other assist. Richards had the puck in the corner but moved out to the circle, and his shot was expertly tipped by Carter, who had established position in front. Suddenly, it was a 4-4 game heading into the third. 3:13 in, Kopitar scored a goal on the power play that was too weird to describe. See it here! Good patience by Kopitar to avoid knocking it in with a high stick.
Toffoli and Carter each picked up their second points of the night on the go-ahead goal, which would prove to be the game-winner. Not for lack of trying, though. Martin Jones stepped up after allowing four goals in the first 40 minutes. His save on Jamie McGinn looked highlight-reel but was merely very good upon further review; however, his save on Gabriel Landeskog was world-class, and the replay backed it up.
Jones earned his keep there, and in the Avs' final power play (mentioned above), they went 6-on-4 but couldn't beat the kid in net. Exhales were heard all around LA when Justin Williams cruised in for an empty-netter with eleven seconds left to seal the deal. (Drew Doughty picked up an assist on that goal, meaning that all five returning Olympians in action tallied at least one point.) After waiting a few weeks for the Kings to get back on the ice, it was for them to reward us with some offense.
(Postgame reaction and GIFs can be found here.)