With Jarret Stoll out of the lineup for the second straight contest, every Los Angeles Kings fan was on the edge of their seat waiting to see how Andy Andreoff would follow up his strong performance from Saturday's game.
What's that? You weren't on the edge of your seat? Your loss, then, as Andreoff broke through for his first career NHL goal. With Jonathan Quick in fine form and a nice effort from the rest of the team, that was enough for a 1-0 win over the Arizona Coyotes.
We've been hard enough on Jordan Nolan and Andy Andreoff this season, so let's go ahead and talk about how they linked up for one of the more crucial goals of the year. Nolan took a pass from Assist Machine Brayden McNabb and entered the zone, using his body to hold off John Moore at the circle. He did it so well that Moore temporarily forgot how to stand up on his skates, and Klas Dahlbeck was left to defend the pass across the slot. He failed, and Nolan's pass slid under him to an open Andy Andreoff. Mike Smith (who had a good evening, all things considered) slid across in time, but Andreoff snuck the shot through the five-hole for his first career NHL goal AND point.
As you see above, he was excited. The only people more excited? His teammates:
Happiness. pic.twitter.com/mB0iI9k1tA— LA Kings (@LAKings) March 17, 2015
As it turns out, that was enough. The closest Arizona came to finding the net was at the midpoint of the game, when Third Star Jake Muzzin was on his own defending a 2-on-1. Mark Arcobello (who I will henceforth refer to exclusively as "Marcobello") elected to shoot instead of passing to Shane Doan, which was the right move; he beat Quick but couldn't beat the post. Doan had a pretty good game in his own right; as has been the case for seemingly every Kings-Yotes matchup in the last 15 years, Doan was the most dangerous Coyote, as well as their only positive Corsi player at 5-on-5.
That's because the entire forward corps pulled their weight pretty well in terms of possession. Andreoff and Nolan were actually on the lower end, along with Nick Shore, who had some trouble with his elevated third-line responsibilities. (I noticed a couple nice backchecks, though.) I think we all assumed Andreoff would get bumped when Stoll is OK to return, but after his Saturday showing and last night's goal, it's a little more of an open competition.
On defense, it was the Brayden McNabb/Andrej Sekera show; dealing with the toughest zone starts on the team, they blew Arizona out of the water, each notching a +16 Corsi at even strength. McNabb and Sekera were sensible in their own zone; Sekera's postioning and decision-making since he joined LA have been a real pleasure, and the two were rewarded as they were on the ice for the game's lone goal. The other four guys each were about even, though Drew Doughty and Robyn Regehr had a really solid third period. (Incidentally, that came after Regehr took a puck to the face. Whatever works!)
Doughty and Regehr did find themselves on the ice for most of the game's final three minutes, and the team did a good job limiting chances. Jonathan Quick finished with a 25-save shutout, and it was nice that he didn't have to do too much at game's end. His biggest test came earlier, as he made five saves in 35 seconds in the wake of a third-period penalty kill after a Jordan Nolan hooking penalty. It was a confident performance from Quick, and the frustrated Coyotes couldn't solve him.
The win puts LA back in playoff position, as well as even with Calgary on points (though they're still behind on the ROW tiebreaker). Aside from two remaining games against Edmonton, this was the easiest game left on the schedule, so two points were a must. Good work.