Well, there's a lot more to talk about today then there was on Saturday. Namely, we saw some goals! The offensive effort from the Los Angeles Kings would have been good enough to beat most teams. Unfortunately, the Chicago Blackhawks are the best team in the league at capitalizing on their chances, and the Kings gave them plenty. The result was a 5-3 loss which I am definitely NOT calling a moral victory. There were positives though...
The first period? Not a positive. Drew Doughty took all of 24 seconds to end up in the penalty box after being penalized for charging, and unsurprisingly, the Hawks made the Kings pay. After an offensive zone draw, Jonathan Toews took a pass from Patrick Kane and drew Robyn Regehr up the boards before passing it back to Kane in the corner. Kane had too much room, and was able to drive to the net and beat Jonathan Quick five-hole. Colin Fraser took a penalty just 1:29 later; fortunately, Chicago did not, ahem, make him pay. Patrick Sharp soon drew blood on a high stick to cancel out the penalty and give the Kings 2:55 of power play time, but the Kings didn't get a shot on Corey Crawford until the final seconds of the PP. It was their first shot on goal, 7:26 in.
Bryan Bickell made it 2-0 soon after we returned to even strength. The Kings got overaggressive and gave up a 3-on-1: Kane (with the puck), Andrew Shaw, and Bryan Bickell vs. Robyn Regehr. Ruh-roh. Regehr took away Shaw and Quick played the puck-carrier, but Kane found Bickell, who one-timed a shot up high on Quick before Slava Voynov could get in the way. Fortunately, Dustin Brown drew a penalty on Andrew Shaw seconds after that. After some struggles to get any sort of pressure, Drew Doughty stopped screwing around and laced a slapper past Corey Crawford.
Apparently reminded that players other than Kopitar were capable of generating offense, the Kings showed signs of life, but the rest of the first period was a struggle. Once the second kicked off, though, it was like watching an entirely new team. LA peppered Corey Crawford with shots, and hit the post three times in ten minutes. Not ten hockey minutes; ten real minutes. Brown beat Crawford cleanly but hit the far post, a Jake Muzzin bid was deflected by Crawford onto the post, and the pipe denied Doughty his second goal. It's been a while since the post was that cruel to us. Almost... two days. They also hit the post three times last week, in fact. But at least that was a victory; I'm more reminded of last year's Game 6 against San Jose, which elicited this reaction...
(attempts to punch wall) (hits post)— Eric (@hailrover) May 27, 2013
In the midst of this post craziness, though, Anze Kopitar tied things up. It was the most fortunate goal the Kings have had in weeks. Kopitar had a step on the defender, as Tyler Toffoli chipped a centering pass which was tipped along by Jeff Carter. Kopitar either made a deft backhand chip shot or was simply trying to get the puck to Toffoli. (It was probably the latter.) Whatever his intentions, his fluttering shot floated over Crawford's pad and over the goal line. It was 2-2, the Kings were gaining momentum, and Staples Center (which was packed with Chicago fans today) was loud for the right reasons. Chicago even had to take a timeout.
Then, disaster. Crawford had been the beneficiary of some good fortune, but his counterpart in the LA net wasn't so lucky tonight. Nick Leddy took a point shot which hit the stick of Marcus Kruger, then the stick of Matt Greene. The puck changed directions both times, and the second tip went in past a helpless Quick. You could blame it on Greene, but in reality, it was a fluke goal which came after a prolonged stretch of good play. The goal took the wind out of the LA sails, and the Hawks cruised into intermission with a one-goal lead. It could've been worse, but Quick made a stellar save on a Sharp breakaway , then (from his rear end) on a Brent Seabrook slapper, near the end of the frame.
The Kings opened the third period well, getting the first seven shots of the period. Chicago climbed back into the game, though, and Matt Greene took an obvious interference penalty to give them an opportunity. The Kings survived the penalty kill, but seconds after it ended, Leddy beat Quick cleanly on a screened slapper which... go figure... went in off the post. Game basically over. It went unnoticed at the time, but apparently, the clock froze for a couple seconds near the end of the Greene penalty, delaying his exit from the box. It seems that time just works differently at Staples Center.
Two more goals got us to 5-3. Kane scored his second on a slick setup from Patrick Sharp; again, not much Quick could do. Then, it was Tyler Toffoli knocking in his first goal in 16 games from close range, t. Other than Kopitar, Toffoli is the first forward to score for the Kings since Jeff Carter and Dwight King on January 21. One objective for the Kings' next game is for that second line of Mike Richards, Dustin Brown, and Justin Williams to find the net. They were the most effective line in terms of Corsi, but that needs to translate to goals. Soon.
The other objective? Don't let a good offense get a bunch of chances. You can do it, boys.