If this game seemed familiar... it was. Remember last season, when the Los Angeles Kings were in the middle of a horrendous scoring slump? And they played the Philadelphia Flyers and outshot them 35-13? This one was a bit of a rehash.
Sure, it was a less frustrating defeat than that one (shudder) for a number of reasons. LA has actually been finding the net quite a bit as of late, so there isn't the same sense of creeping doom. The Kings didn't really start dominating this game until they were already down a couple goals, so LA can't solely blame this on luck. And most importantly, the season is less than two months old, so no overreaction is necessary. Still sucks to lose when you exert so much control over the game for so long, though.
It didn't matter, partially because the Kings let their opponents strike first. Neither team had a lot of energy in the game's opening minutes, and the first shot on goal took four and a half minutes to arrive. When it finally did, it was an intricate team goal in which no pass was wasted. Claude Giroux ended up finishing it off with a shot up high past Jonathan Quick.
The second goal was in the same vein, a rush goal that wasn't really a rush at all. As per usual, a former King scored, and this time around it was Wayne Simmonds getting his sixth power play goal of the year (tied for fifth in the NHL). Quick would like to have done better, but given that the shot was inside the circle and Quick has bailed out LA plenty of times this year, I'm inclined to let him slide.
The Philadelphia Flyers' reaction to taking a two-goal lead was the exact response you'd expect from a mediocre possession team on the road: they collapsed into a defensive shell and generated no offense whatsoever. The latter stages of the second period featured terrific opportunities in tight for Anze Kopitar (set up by Dwight King) and Jeff Carter (set up by his own damn self) which were stopped by Steve Mason. That was just a preview of an all-out effort by the Kings to get two goals in the third.
LA got one through (former Flyer!!!1!) Justin Williams. That was it. The Williams goal was an exercise in persistence as he and Jarret Stoll whacked away at a rebound of a Robyn Regehr shot. Regehr got the second star for his trouble, and Stoll and Williams got continued recognition as part of what is suddenly LA's most productive line. Radio guys Nick Nickson and Daryl Evans brought up the likelihood of that line remaining in place as LA's third when Marian Gaborik returns, though leaving Stoll in the top 9 pushes down Mike Richards or one of LA's young wingers to the fourth line.
One reason why that might be bad? Penalties. Stoll's earned a reputation for taking too many penalties but outdid himself with three minors, two in the third period with LA pushing for the equalizer. The last one was a killer, even if Justin Williams could have been punished instead, as it came with 1:26 to go and LA up a man. Bizarrely, Darryl Sutter did not pull his goalie to make it a 6-on-4 advantage, and when he pulled his goalie after Stoll went to the box, it felt like too little, too late. The 16-3 shot margin wasn't enough, and LA skated off lamenting their inability to beat Mason.