It must be something about playing at the Staples Center against the San Jose Sharks. The Los Angeles Kings were on the second night of a back to back, down a goal, and scrambling to keep up with the Sharks' quick puck movement. Needless to say, the outlook wasn't great.
They needed a little help from a too-many-men penalty, but LA dug deep, tied the game, and decided not to wait until the shootout to grab two points tonight. Anze Kopitar's second goal of the season won the season's first Battle of California in overtime.
And they even spotted the Sharks a goal! Thirteen seconds in, a raucous Staples Center crowd was rudely silenced, and Anze Kopitar immediately had something to make up for. Kopitar lost the puck in his own zone to Logan Couture, who carried the puck toward the net and fed back across to Marc-Edouard Vlasic for a one-timer. Vlasic was great all night, and he capitalized here. Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin couldn't react in time to block the pass or the shot, and Jonathan Quick couldn't react in time to make the stop. Kings fan reactions? Pretty universal.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>I'm done. Good night everybody.</p>— All The Kings Men (@KingsMenPodcast) <a href="https://twitter.com/KingsMenPodcast/statuses/395741821331963904">October 31, 2013</a></blockquote>
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Fortunately, that fired up the team a bit, and when the Sharks committed a turnover of their own, LA took advantage. Justin Williams grabbed a Matt Irwin turnover in the Sharks' zone and appeared to have a clear shooting lane from ten feet away. Instead, he passed back to Drew Doughty, and Doughty's quick shot beat Niemi for his fourth goal of the season. Not to be outdone, the Kings committed another ugly turnover to hand the lead right back. Slava Voynov dished along the boards to Trevor Lewis, who tapped the puck along to Jeff Carter. However, Carter missed the puck completely as Joe Pavelski lifted his stick, and Tommy Wingels quickly moved the other way to cause a 2-on-1. Pavelski got the pass, waited a moment, and elevated the puck past Quick. After a fight between Kyle Clifford and Mike Brown, the period ended 2-1.
The Kings started off the second by hitting everything that moved, and the strategy paid off. Soon after surviving an awful Matt Greene turnover, Clifford continued an excellent performance by aggressively checking Brad Stuart until he lost possession. Effective! Dustin Brown set up Slava Voynov for a long point shot, and Stoll redirected it over the pad of Niemi and just inside the post. Despite only picking up three shots, LA looked better in the second and was even able to pin back the dynamic Sharks for a while. Dustin Brown forced a turnover to create a 3-on-1 look for LA until Vlasic broke it up, and Clifford nearly gave the Kings the lead but was robbed by Niemi. Unfortunately, Clifford followed it up by running over Niemi a bit later, and the Sharks' power play made it look easy. Jason Demers to Marleau to Couture, tic-tac-toe, and Quick's pad got most of the Couture shot but couldn't keep it out. (That's not a criticism of Quick, it would have been an incredible save.)
So San Jose grabbed the lead with two minutes left in the second. LA kept their aggressive style going in the third period, and it began to pay off; however, the power play looked ineffective when called upon early in the period. Dustin Brown had the only great look, but his bid at a wide-open rebound was broken up by Joe Thornton. Sutter threw different combinations of forwards onto the ice throughout the third in a desperate attempt to find that game-tying goal, which is the only possible reason that San Jose would take their second too-many-men penalty of the game. LA finally found their puck movement, and pulled off a similar passing play to the one the Sharks used earlier. Richards at the point, to Kopitar, to Williams, who actually had space in the high slot. Williams beat Niemi to tie the game, and after the PK survived a Couture shot off the post to kill a final penalty to Daniel Carcillo, we headed to overtime.
LA came out flying in the first minute of overtime, with Dustin Brown hitting the post, Mike Richards getting stopped in tight, and Jeff Carter getting a look at a partial breakaway immediately after the restart. Carter was foiled by a Justin Braun hook, giving the Kings one final power play. LA cycled, took a couple shots, and when Anze Kopitar decided to shoot instead of pass on the power play, his blast beat Niemi cleanly to give LA the win. The Kings finished with half as many shots as they had averaged over the last two games, but I can't argue with four goals. Great effort on the second night of a back-to-back.
More from Jewels From The Crown:
- Is Anze Kopitar finally shooting more?
- Weekly Discussion: How Would You Fix the Bottom Six?
- Should we be concerned about Dustin Brown's production?
- Los Angeles Kings October Prospect Update
- Roster Move Could be Imminent for the Kings