Losing to Calgary was one thing, but Edmonton?!
Back-to-back letdowns had Kings fans stressed out heading into their New Year's Day showdown against the Vancouver Canucks. Would LA's winter woes drag on in the finale of their Western Canadian swing—and pile on more cause for concern?
A Vancouver salvo in the opening three minutes—they sandwiched three EV chances around a Tanner Pearson wrister off the post—boded ominously for Los Angeles:
LA counterpunched (and punched and punched) to a 12-3 shots on goal edge. But in predictable Kangz fashion, a Dustin Brown tripping penalty led to a Canucks point shot pinballing off Matt Greene's stick and Daniel Sedin's skate and Jonathan Quick's pad for an easy Alexandre Burrows strike. Undeterred, the Kings kept firing:
Surely, LA deserved better!
But the hockey gods weren't done laughing: A few minutes into the second, a Chris Higgins pass meant for Henrik Sedin ricocheted off Alec Martinez's skate and into Radim Vrbata's wheelhouse for a blistering slapper that beat Quick. Shortly thereafter, an Anze Kopitar snapshot rang the post, and Los Anzeles could only look above for guidance.
LA chugged along, finally hitting paydirt with five minutes to go in the period, as Dwight King roofed his own rebound over Ryan Miller.
To this point, the Kings had driven play at an astonishing rate: In just the second period, they had pummeled the Canucks with a 29-8 EV Corsi. After two, they held a commanding 16-6 EV scoring chances advantage.
So Vancouver limped into the final frame with just one thing in mind: Hold on. Finally slowing LA's pace—the Canucks yielded a far more tolerable seven shots against through the first 16 minutes of the third—they looked poised to escape on Miller's shoulders.
Then Trevor Lewis (who boasted a 93% EV CF tonight) drew a hooking call on Ryan Stanton in the corner. With seconds ticking on the power play, Justin Williams picked a corner on a bad angle.
Finally, with about a minute left in the game, Pearson capped off some strong boardwork with a cross-ice bullet between Vrbata's legs to Jarret Stoll. The noted Vancouver Canucks killer propelled Los Angeles into second place in the Pacific with a slapshot straight from 2009 (frankly, Miller should've had it, but he did manage 37 saves otherwise):
Would such last-minute payback have been more appropriate against the Flames last Monday? Perhaps. But this was a game that the Kings thoroughly dominated. Remember that foreboding chart from earlier? Take away Voldemort:
Here's another charmer:
So winter woes? And the melancholy of January?
Heyyyyyy pic.twitter.com/sGzcbB6L3F— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) January 2, 2015
Because Los Angeles didn't get the expected results versus Edmonton and Calgary, it's easy to forget that just five days ago, they authored another wire-to-wire masterpiece against another playoff-quality team.
Score-adjusted 5v5 Corsi over the last 2 months looking pretty good pic.twitter.com/vnz4Qw7l4O— Andrew Leafman (@andrewleafman) January 1, 2015