Hopefully Sutter has learned from his lesson and avoids starting Scrivens on the 2nd night of the back-to-back. It's bad enough when he does it to Quick, but using a lesser-skilled goalie (no offense buddy) here would be a bad decision, even for a guy that thinks Trevor Lewis should be used in the shootout.
The Kings began the second night of their back-to-back behind the eight ball. New Jersey came out flying, hemming the Kings in their own zone for long stretches of time, allowing just a couple of counter-attacks that actually amounted to anything. The Kings were forced to rely on strong positioning and defensive zone coverage, but they weathered New Jersey's strongest push of the game.
While neither team pressured the goalie to any immense amount or effect, there was some interesting, well-executed hockey being played. Ignoring the Devils' record, they're a good team. They possess the puck well. They have intelligent, talented players that just cannot score a goal to save their lives. The second period was the best example of this, as the Kings finally found their legs. Both teams skated up and down the ice, exchanging pushes and chances in the best way that they can.
So, still pretty poorly.
Brief spells of offensive pressure were supplemented by a highly physical affair. As he is wont to do, Jordan Nolan shifted the spotlight to himself. After driving hard to the net, Nolan slashed a Devil to gather the ire of noted piece of trash Cam Janssen. The two teams exchanged sticks, facewashes, punches and everything except good tidings. Minutes after that, Nolan entered the fray again and knocked the wind out of former King Peter Harrold with an effective, clean hit directly behind Devils' goalie Cory Schneider.
Through two periods, the game remained scoreless. The Kings - likely fighting some pretty tired lungs - came out with some quick early pressure, but the Devils responded with a strong flurry of their own. Ben Scrivens was forced to return his best sequence of the game. Scrivens initially pushed aside a shot from Adam Henrique and the put-back by Steve Bernier. The puck then shifted around the zone until Eric Gelinas rifled a shot wide of the net. Unfortunately, the rebound kicked quickly back out the other side. Henrique had the seemingly-simple task of burying the empty netter, but Scrivens slid across the crease to keep the scoreless tie in tact.
About 8 minutes later, the Kings got the only goal that they'd need. Although he wouldn't show up on the scoresheet, Anze Kopitar did yeoman's work in gaining the zone and possessing the puck along the half-wall while waiting for the Kings to populate the Devils' zone. Justin Williams supported the play with his own heavy lifting; he skated up and down the boards before handing the puck off to Jake Muzzin at the point. Muzzin immediately fired the puck toward the net, where Dwight King was waiting with both the screen and deflection. Dwight King's deft touch redirected the puck into the net and the Kings were finally on the board.
An unfortunate Mike Richards penalty gave the Devils some late life, but a strong penalty kill effort secured the lead long enough for Trevor Lewis to find the nail that Anze Kopitar would use to seal the Devils' coffin. Strong up-ice pressure resulted in a penalty by Damien Brunner that pushed the game to four-on-four play. After the game's state shifted to a Kings' power play, Anze Kopitar padded his stats with a backhand that would make A Pimp Named Slickback proud.
All in all, it was an extremely strong performance from a team that must be carrying some pretty heavy legs. The Kings rallied behind their Terry Murray-borne instincts and put forth their strongest defensive effort of the year. It wasn't the prettiest game, and it's far from their most complete one, but it's as gutsy of a win as they've come up with in at least... 24 hours?