A crazy first, a dominant second, and a comfortable-then-really-uncomfortable third period added up to a 4-3 win for the Los Angeles Kings over the Columbus Blue Jackets. LA hasn't had consecutive wins since December 20, so enjoy this one, yeah?
Just as I was looking for the right phrase to describe the first period, Bob Miller described it as a "firewagon first," which is why he gets paid to describe things for a living. Things got off to a regrettably quick start when Jack Skille scored inside two minutes, though... stop me if you've heard this one... it wasn't Jonathan Quick's fault! Skille's pass was on the rush, and Jamie McBain succeeded in getting in between his man and the puck. With his skate, specifically.
The Kings responded extremely well to this bad break, as they capitalized on the very next shot. 32 seconds later, it was Jeff Carter turning on the jets and feeding across to Dwight King, who was there for the tap-in.
King me pic.twitter.com/YSQ8IhoQUZ— LA Kings (@LAKings) February 10, 2015
Tyler Toffoli scored as King turned provider with a cross-ice pass of his own at 8:01 of the first period, and the race was on. There were no more goals in the opening frame, though we did get to see King-Carter-Toffoli bringing even more pressure and Kyle Clifford bringing, um, a boarding penalty and a lopsided defeat fighting Jared Boll. All in all, a really solid period after an unfortunate break.
The second period was even better, all in all, as LA outshot Columbus 16-7. Journeyman goaltender Curtis McElhinney was giving it his all to keep his team in it, and he withstood the charge long enough for Columbus to tie things up. Scott Hartnell, he of the 1000 career games, tucked one through the seemingly nonexistent five hole of Jonathan Quick, and for an agonizing 1:18, we were really worried about the Kings letting this one slip. Thankfully, that dynamic second line got Jeff Carter his traditional back-in-Columbus goal, as Brayden McNabb slid a perfect pass behind McElhinney for a Carter tip-in.
The first line did a nice job setting up Marian Gaborik for an unmarked shot from the slot early in the third, and with Anze Kopitar camped in front, Dustin Brown scored on the rebound to make it 4-2. It wasn't close on the scoreboard, and it wasn't close on the ice. In fact, the Kings were still doubling Columbus in shots as late as the eight-minute mark of the third. At that point, they still needed a few spectacular saves to maintain their two-goal edge. One was at that eight-minute mark, when Quick denied Brandon Dubinsky at point-blank range. The wildest, though was when Jack Johnson had an open look at the net. Until Jarret Stoll appeared, that is.
Quick finished with 23 saves... and 3 goals allowed, after David Savard hit the far side of the net with Quick heavily screened. Columbus had to be aggressive with their goalie pull and did, getting a sixth man out with over two minutes left and scoring on that Savard shot with 1:53 to go. They got the extra man one more time and kept it for the final minute and a half, which lasted about five minutes of real time as faceoffs were re-done, whistles were blown, and pucks were covered by Quick. At long last, Drew Doughty cleared the puck with three seconds left, and all was well.
LA earned this one, even if that eternally long ending stretch made it feel like an escape. The Kings now play eight of their next nine games in Calfornia, with only two true road games in that set. The path is clear, if LA can stay on it.