It only happens once a year, so why am I so tired of writing about the Los Angeles Kings losing in Detroit? I guess each one is just aggravating in its own special way. Tonight, it was simple: the Detroit Red Wings got the matchups they wanted at home, converted some golden chances, and held off the late, totally predictable LA charge.
The Kings, in a bit of a surprise move, went with Jhonas Enroth in goal. He set the tone for a night of showy goaltending by both teams, making a terrific glove save on Gustav Nyquist just one minute into the game.
Unfortunately, Enroth (he of the .979 save percentage coming in) could only do so much tonight. Detroit was outshot by a decent margin, but between their four power plays (a fifth was two seconds long) and some good cycling, they were able to generate good chances against Enroth. Their three goals all came on high-danger scoring chances:
- Tomas Tatar got a nice blind pass from Justin Abdelkader on a first period power play, after a holding penalty by Derek Forbort.
- Mike Green charged in and put away a loose puck from the slot. Jamie McBain and Andy Andreoff tried to clear the puck from the crease area at the same time, and as a result it just sort of flopped away from the front.
- Dylan Larkin (who set up the prior goal with a nice move to the net) drove to the front again and slammed home a rebound of Justin Abdelkader's shot from the circle.
I'm gonna soften the inevitable blow of "The fourth line was out there for both even strength goals against" with "They were actually generating some pressure before the second goal." And yes, it's really easy to pick on a team's fourth line. But, yeesh, if Jordan Weal doesn't draw back in for at least one of the two back-to-back games on Sunday or Monday... I just don't know. To their credit, after Darryl Sutter criticized the retaliation penalty Jordan Nolan took on Tuesday, they stayed out of penalty trouble. That's all I can say for that.
@JFTC_Kings Can we down-vote the 4th line multiple times or nah?— THX BUD (@thxbud) November 21, 2015
Who was in penalty trouble tonight? Drew Doughty -- who is now at six consecutive games with a minor penalty -- and Marian Gaborik, who took six minutes' worth of high sticking penalties. It's getting to put-up-or-shut-up time with Gaborik, who had a good possession night and got some scoring chances but nevertheless has points in just three of 18 games this season. No such problems for Jeff Carter, who found the net twice. Both goals were vintage Carter, the first coming on a shorthanded break in which he smoothly moved to the backhand, the second on a rush down the ice off a feed from Tyler Toffoli.
Petr Mrazek very nearly denied that second Carter chance with the glove, but he only got enough of it to change its trajectory on the way in. Mrazek won't be losing a lot of sleep, because Carter is good, and he was rock-solid the rest of the evening. LA tried to repeat their Philly heroics with a last-minute extra-attacker goal, but they never came all that close, missing or getting blocked on a few too many tries. Doughty led the team with three misses, but after the save Mrazek made on him late in the second, I kinda get why he might have been shooting for corners.
Both Larkin and Toffoli threatened to mar the game by getting injured, but each returned to action after getting off slowly. So in the end, it's just another competitive game which the Red Wings managed to squeeze one more goal out of.