The Los Angeles Kings threw it back to last January with a performance that left the Staples Center crowd once again shaking their heads in exasperation. It's a good thing that a playoff matchup with Calgary is basically impossible at this point.
Since everyone has been talking about Jonathan Quick lately (for good reason), let's start off the recap with his performance. Upon leaving Staples, I expressed frustration that Jonathan Quick only had to make three or four tough saves, and failed on two of them. After a few hours of contemplation (and some exasperated discussion with Sheng and Whiskey), I'm a little more inclined to pass around the blame a bit more. Quick's performance on the PK (a recent source of griping around these parts) was actually terrific, as he stopped all eight shots he faced with confidence. His rebounds were generally kicked far away from danger, with a solid poke check used on the one troublesome rebound he allowed.
Then again, it's nearly impossible to blame the defense on a night like this. For one, the Kings only allowed two shots on goal during their four-minute penalty kill (after Drew Doughty complained about a shoddy cross-checking call and picked up an additional unsportsmanlike conduct). Overall, the Kings blocked 23 shots last night; by comparison, Quick only had to stop 23 shots in total. Robyn Regehr's return is probably related to that, as he blocked three shots and played a whopping six minutes on the PK in his first game back from injury. One not-so-shining moment: the Flames' game-tying goal, in which Alec Martinez whiffed on a pass at the blue line and Regehr was a step too late to stop Sean Monahan from getting off a shot the other way. It's clearly the result of an error by Martinez, but this is where the exasperation at the goaltending comes from: this was the time for Quick to bail out his team after an otherwise excellent defensive performance, and he couldn't.
The eventual game-winner is one where Quick was out of position, which is bound to happen in a 4-on-4 situation. The Flames did a good job forcing the movement, but the shot by Dennis Wideman was from a bad angle, and Quick essentially gave him the top half of the net to shootout. He hit it, though it wasn't evident until the next stoppage of play due to a quick ricochet off the camera (the puck is the black spot on the right side):
The overtime session started off 3-on-3 due to matching minors between Regehr and Mark Giordano, but LA couldn't take advantage of the absence of Calgary's best player. When you put Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, and Jake Muzzin on the ice to start overtime and win the faceoff, you expect a dangerous chance or two, at minimum. On the contrary, the Flames had the upper hand in the extra session, getting four shots to LA's one. On the balance of the full game, though, the Kings deserved a win. I mean, come on.
January 20, 2015
Joni Ortio stole this one for the Flames. It wasn't a case of LA getting non-threatening shots, either.
2nd EV chances: LAK 2 - CGY 0. So far 8-2. More importantly, LA 4 - CGY 2 on PP. And most importantly, 0 Kings goals LOL— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) January 20, 2015
The Kings had a rough time on the power play but had one gorgeous 15-second sequence foiled by an Ortio reflex save, and threatened a number of other times. Mike Richards fluffed a couple chances, Jeff Carter was stopped after a delicious flip pass from Nick Shore, and Justin Williams and Dustin Brown each matched Carter's five shots on goal. The only goal for LA came when Jarret Stoll deflected Matt Greene's point shot into the top corner at 10:23 of the third; the lead lasted for three and a half minutes until Monahan tied it up.
I mentioned pregame that last year, the second-to-last game before the break was a good effort that wasn't rewarded, followed up by an overtime win (REGEHR BLAST) which set up a post-break winning streak. With LA on the outside looking in, they could use a repeat of that.