In conversation the other day, someone I was speaking with brought up the fact that the Kings and the Predators, two of the best defensive teams in the NHL, always seem to have "barnburners," which is totally unexpected given how much they pride themselves on keeping goals against down.
On Saturday afternoon, Jeff Carter delivered a sweet treat in overtime and sent the home crowd off happily riding a sugar high, sparing everyone the pain of having to go through a shootout. And oh, what a delicious goal it was.
Drew Doughty got things started when he deflected a pass on a 3-on-1. Doughty then got the puck and sprung Carter who flew into the offensive zone, out waited Pekka Rinne, and roofed the puck for a happy Halloween treat.
Tyler Toffoli nearly tricked the Preds, but just couldn't quite find the net a third time. His two goals, however, were still awesome - but we'll get to those later.
The first period started off well with both teams exchanging chances. It was a fun, fast period in which there were few stoppages, with the referees swallowing their whistles. Yes, there was one power play but it was the so-obvious-it-gets-called-everytime type of penalty. The power play was not so good for the Kings. They had a couple nice zone entries, but really couldn't do much other than that. Both Pekka Rinne and Jonathan Quick were sharp.
It was pretty close in shot attempts, though, as expected, LA held the slight advantage in corsis over Nashville.
The second period started fairly similarly to the first, though the Kings registered a lot of offensive zone time in the first few minutes. Drew Doughty and Kyle Clifford were excellent the whole game and Clifford managed to draw a penalty early in the second.
The power play was kind of ugly at first and even allowed a shorthanded chance, but then Toffoli, his father and their butler (Lurch aka Milan Lucic) combined to make beautiful hockey. Toffoli, by the way, had two shots on the power play, scoring on the second one. His hands are wonderful. The first shot, he changed the angle but Rinne deflected it into the corner. Lucic picked it up, passed it to Christian Ehrhoff, who found Cupcake in the low slot and he spinned, fired and scored on the backhand. It looked almost like a trick goal. Like, you know how Sonny Milano can pick up the puck and do little tricks? Like that. It. Was. Awesome.
But then Kings gonna King and they gave up two power play goals of their own, allowing Nashville to take the lead.
Even though LA surrendered their initial lead and had to fight back to tie (and eventually win) the game, the Kings were pretty great overall. Passes were crisp and on the tape, they were quick as a team and worked well in five-man units all over the ice. Sure, they had a few special teams issues, scoring once on four man advantage opportunities, but 5v4, they were excellent. And you have to give Nashville, a very good team, a lot of credit for disruptions in flow and turnovers.
Brayden McNabb had an errant high stick, which led to a goal against, but at least it wasn't in the offensive zone for once?
There wasn't much the Kings' defense or Quick could do about the power play goal they gave up. A lot of credit goes to the Perds for quick sticks, leaving no time for anyone to react. The only sucky thing was that Human Trash James Neal scored the goal. There was a tiny bit of bad luck in that the rebound bounced off Quick's pad right to Trashman Neal instead of being blocked by Jake Muzzin's skate, but such is life sometimes.
The Kings were a little flustered and upon winning a faceoff in their own zone, Alec Martinez couldn't get his feet moving fast enough and took a hooking penalty. It didn't take long for Shea Weber to get his Alex Ovechkin goal - that is, from the faceoff dot the goalie's right - as set up by Roman Josi.
Somehow POS Mike Ribeiro saw numbers and only got a two minute minor for boarding Ehrhoff. The league is supposedly cracking down on concussions and dirty hits, but the referee felt that Ribeiro only deserved two minutes for hitting a guy square in the back and shoving him into the boards.
It's not a suspension worthy play, but it is a major worthy one if they're actually trying to prevent concussions, which is entirely possible to do without slowing the game down as many people are concerned will happen.
Ok rant over.
Ehrhoff, was held out of the remainder of the game for (presumably) cautionary reasons, but thankfully, is okay today.
The Kings were actually pretty good on that power play. They looked determined to score, but unfortunately, the Perds were saved the bell - or rather, the horn, signaling the end of the second period. The rest of the power play wasn't as good as it began and Nashville killed it off without much of a threat.
LA wasn't satisfied having no offensive zone penalties, so Trevor Lewis remedied that during a puck battle with Seth Jones. Even though it was an accident, the rule book does state that you have to have control of your stick at all times. Lucky for the Kings, it was only two minutes (instead of four because Jones didn't bleed) and they successfully killed it off.
Fortunately, Toffoli is a delightful delicacy. Also, Lewis's penalty ended up putting him in a good spot as he hustled along the boards, blew past Jones and set up our favorite pastry for the game-tying-goal.
Nashville was giving the Kings' top-six some fits right after Toffoli's goal, so naturally the go-ahead-goal came from Andy Andreoff ?
The fourth line went out and looked like the first line with a lot of good pressure and then scored. That was totally expected. Uh-huh. Yup. It was actually a really nice goal for Andreoff. The Perds were scrambling in their zone, no one knew where the puck was and Andreoff picked it up and threw it short side. As Jim Fox said, that goal is proof why simply "putting the puck on net is never a bad idea."
Of course, since Quick was having such a good game, it takes an easy, distant, unscreened shot to beat him and tie the game.
Surprisingly, Andreoff's goal was the only time he played hero yesterday. He bailed Quick out when the puck was loose in the crease and no one else seemed to know where it was. Way to go, Andreoff! Maybe all those times Bob Miller confused Jordan Nolan with Anze Kopitar has infused some actual hockey talent into that line.
Regulation ended with Nashville leading in shots on goal but still tied in goals scored. LA had gone the final 10 minutes (well okay, nine minutes and 52 seconds) without a shot on goal. And I think Clifford tried to pull a Space Jam and steal some of Kopitar's talent in the final 10 seconds in regulation as the two collided in the offensive zone, though no one was hurt, which is good news.
Overtime was scary and crazy and don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it action. Both teams managed three shots on goal and interestingly enough, it was Carter who got stripped of the puck that led to the 3-on-1 that Doughty broke up and then fed to Carter, who scored the game-winner.
Thank you based god, Jeff Carter.
One person who had a really good game was Dustin Brown, though he didn't score (but he's not pointless through 10 games. Well... He might be. But that's a different story.)