"Where is Jeff Carter?" "Where is Anze Kopitar?" Thankfully, the answer tonight was: "skating with Marian Gaborik."
If you wanted the bizarre in Martin Brodeur's return to Staples, you got it with two incidents in the third period: a Tyler Toffoli shot went up into Brodeur's gear and caused a three-minute delay, and 17 seconds later, Dwight King scored on this shot which defies explanation. (If the simplest explanation is the best explanation, you can blame Brodeur!) Other weird happenings before that, too: Justin Williams fought Kevin Shattenkirk, and Tyler Toffoli nearly scrapped with Paul Stastny. But let's not take away from the rest of the game... which was sensational.
Were the Kings sensational? Not completely. The end numbers look great, but the Kings had to climb out of a deep hole of their own creation. Three goals, to be exact. LA also had to claw back into it without the services of Robyn Regehr, who left the game with an upper body injury. Yes, he's not gonna help score goals, but his absence meant a heavier workload for Doughty and the rest; it's a good thing LA didn't have to kill any penalties after the defenseman's departure.
The penalties were what got LA into trouble initially. Special teams were a disaster on the road trip, and when St. Louis got three goals in three minutes (AGAIN), two of them were on the power play. David Backes tipped one in with the shaft of his stick 13:12 in, and with exactly four minutes remaining in the first, Kevin Shattenkirk blasted a shot past Jonathan Quick with Backes again crowding the front. If Dmitri Jaskin's goal to put the Blues up 2-0 had caused concern, Shattenkirk's goal caused full-blown panic. LA got exactly what they needed before the intermission, though, with Marian Gaborik knocking a rebound past Brodeur on the power play.
Carter and Kopitar got the assists on the goal, and I remember thinking to myself, "hey, at least those guys are on the board." Darryl Sutter nodded and swapped Gaborik up to their line, moving Dustin Brown down with Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams. (Brown would then spend the third period with Dwight King and Mike Richards. How fun!) The move worked like a charm. Kopitar scored six minutes in to the second on a wonderfully worked play; Carter and Gaborik set up entering the zone, and Jake Muzzin drove the net. This led to the "oh-crap-he-has-room" moment, shown below:
As soon as Muzzin moved out of the way, Kopitar tucked a shot inside the post to make it 3-2. When Maxim Lapierre went to the box with five minutes left in the second, everyone in the building knew that LA had a golden opportunity to tie things up, and they did so in just six seconds. Kopitar won the draw, Doughty took a slapper, and Gaborik slammed the rebound in on the doorstep. Jori Lehtera scored on a soft backhand 30 seconds later to kill some of the momentum, but even with a 4-3 deficit at intermission, LA had to feel like the game was well within reach.
20 seconds into the third, Jeff Carter reached out and grabbed it.
A bad mistake by Jay Bouwmeester, and two guys who hadn't found a groove suddenly made it all work. It was Carter's first goal in exactly one month. LA got one more power play, threw out Gaborik, Carter, and Kopitar one more time, and those two set up Jake Muzzin. Muzzin passed up on the initial shot, waited for a sliding Bouwmeester to get out of his path, and blasted one up high. Brodeur gave him plenty of net to work with, but Muzzin didn't need all that space anyway...
King's bizarre tally clinched it. Tough to come up with any rational analysis after that one, so let's leave it at: LA really needed a win, and they got one. Getting it against St. Louis to answer their multi-goal comeback two days later? Gravy.