It wasn't the Los Angeles Kings' best game. Heck, it wasn't even the best game they've played in the last week. But it was enough to finally break the losing streak, and thank goodness, because we didn't need three weeks to dwell on another loss. Robyn Regehr scored in overtime to take down the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the world seems a little happier this morning.
Over the last couple weeks, the Kings have consistently started games by taking the wind out of their own sails. They've had enough trouble avoiding early goals at even strength (the Dodger Stadium game and the Pittsburgh game come to mind), but it's even harder when the penalty kill is put to work early. For the second straight game, a King took a penalty inside the first two minutes. And for the second straight game, the Kings paid for it. With Tyler Toffoli in the box, Jack Johnson took a pass from Ryan Johansen and unleashed a wrist shot which was... pretty weak, actually. Jonathan Quick, however, came nowhere near stopping it, as he was already down low and appeared off balance as the shot beat him glove side.
It was a bad goal, but Quick would eventually make up for it. He arguably earned his keep in the first period alone, as the Blue Jackets got ten shots on net while LA got... two. In fact, LA's best opportunity wasn't even counted as a shot; Anze Kopitar set up Jeff Carter in front, and though Carter made a nice stickhandle to even get into an offensive position, Sergei Bobrovsky was there to keep him from getting a good attempt on goal. The Kings spent the rest of the period failing to clear pucks, struggling to complete passes, and taking two too-many-men penalties. Only the post prevented Fedor Tyutin from making it 2-0, and though Quick kept the deficit at a single goal, the Kings left the ice to a smattering of boos.
The second period had to be better, and it was. It was still maddening that the Kings couldn't build any sort of offensive momentum, though. Every time the Kings would get a good shift, it would be followed with an ineffective one. Example: Kopitar, Carter, and Tyler Toffoli put the Blue Jackets on their heels midway through the second, forcing R.J. Umberger into a hasty clear over the glass. On the ensuing power play, Quick had to make four saves in rapid succession. Bobrovsky didn't face a shot.
On an earlier power play, Bobrovsky had stoned Justin Williams on a wraparound bid. Thirty seconds later, Dustin Brown ended another Kings power play by getting called for a charge on Ryan Murray. The hit was unnecessary, and it caught Murray in the head; since Murray was leaning down quite a bit and Brown didn't get his arms up or come in all that late, it probably won't see any sort of supplemental discipline. But don't worry! You'll still hear a bunch of people complain that it's soooo hard to root for the United States in the Olympics because Dustin Brown is on the team and he's the worst person in the world, and so on and so forth.
LA finally got the tying goal three minutes into the third. With the Kings skating 4-on-4 (yeah, no 5-on-5 goals for either team), Anze Kopitar wheeled around after skating from the corner up the boards and looked to get the puck to the middle. Jake Muzzin timed his cut to the net perfectly, and the pass was on the money. He tipped it through the legs of Bobrovsky to make it a 1-1 game, and everything was suddenly up for grabs. LA tested Bobrovsky a few times after that but failed to get a shot on goal in the last twelve minutes, while Quick made multiple saves in the final minute to secure at least one point. He would end with 24 saves, but in overtime, he didn't have to bail the team out any further. That's because it was... Robyn Regehr time.
Carter provided an ideal screen, Richards did an excellent job of holding off defenders to make the final pass, and Regehr put the shot exactly where it needed to be. The Kings now have three weeks off, and when they come back, they'll be looking to make plays like that a lot more often. For now, they'll take the two points and run home... or, in the case of six of our players, to Sochi. Those guys (and our Canadian equipment manager) got a nice send-off after the game, and coming off of a dramatic win, the relief and joy was palpable.