It's tough to bounce back from back-to-back losses, but it's tougher still when you only get 36 hours or so to do it.
Against Anaheim, LA played 20 strong minutes to start things off. I'm not sure you could have picked and chosen 20 strong individual minutes from this game. LA hung around for a while, though, and the 9-4 first period shot margin in Winnipeg's favor wasn't totally awful. Scoring chances were a bit closer, as were the overall shot attempts, but with Winnipeg doing a good job of getting in the way of shots Michael Hutchinson wasn't being tested a whole lot. Jonathan Quick, on the other hand, was asked very early on to try and pull off an impossible save after Robyn Regehr's backpass behind the net had no steam on it. He couldn't; Mark Scheifele flipped the puck across to Drew Stafford for an easy 1-0 lead.
Jeff Carter gave LA the game-tying goal on a 3-on-2 rush. The tally was rather unexpected, though the method was anything but; Carter streaked down the right side and beat Hutchinson cleanly with a wrister to the far side. Time to ease off the gas pedal? No, because Dustin Brown forgot his brakes when Tyler Myers switched directions, and Myers had a lot of room to beat Quick with traffic in front. Myers went to the box shortly after, but Marian Gaborik killed the power play with a holding penalty just seconds after THAT. Bryan Little did to Justin Williams what Myers had just done to Brown, and Andrew Ladd knocked in the rebound. The Kings continued to look second-best until the end of the period, when Ladd scored again.
At the end of two periods, the Kings needed a spark. Jordan Nolan tried. He got taken out by Dustin Byfuglien coming into the zone late in the third and saw it as an opportunity to start something with the big defenseman; a few punches later, Nolan might have been regretting that decision. Soon after that, Robyn Regehr's pinch freed the puck for Toffoli to take a shot. In a period of few chances, Carter got a couple whacks in front, and he was able to backhand it past Hutchinson with five minutes to go. The window had been cracked open, but when Hutchinson made good stops on Trevor Lewis' shot from the circle and the ensuing rebound, there wasn't much left for LA to build on.
The 5-2 final (after an empty-netter) was probably a fair reflection of the game as a whole. It was reminiscent of October, when the brilliance of Carter and Friends bailed the Kings out of a number of crappy performances, but Quick and the defense only have a tiny margin of error in these types of games. As for intensity Jonathan Quick butt-ended a guy, Brayden McNabb went after Mark Scheifele after a clean hit, and the team got into a number of scrums throughout, causing NHL Network to praise the playoff atmosphere afterwards. Atmosphere's great, but I much prefer when LA is eliciting the overreactions and not overreacting themselves. If the Kings are smart, they'll avoid that on Tuesday against Edmonton.
I glossed over individual blame for this one, but who needs to be better on Tuesday, in your opinion?