The Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks played a hockey game last night. This recap could probably just say, "the Kings played in a game decided by a shootout." You automatically know what happened just from reading that, don't you? Well, you're right. They lost.
It was a back-and-forth affair that could have gone either way, so a shootout was a fitting way to end it. After Dwight King scored less than 90 seconds into the game, the teams launched dueling volume-shooting campaigns that resulted in a lot of bad-angle shots, not too many rebound chances, some impressive saves, and one earth-shatteringly fantastic save by Jonathan Quick—you know, the kind of save that makes Jim Fox squeal in the background while Bob Miller is commentating?—that turned out to have been blocked by the goalpost. Oh. Oops.
The Kings' fast start was born when Quick ventured from his crease to retrieve the loose puck and propel it along the boards. Tyler Toffoli gathered it and sent an area pass to Jeff Carter, who was already under speed. Carter took the puck all the way to the goal line before sliding it in front of the net, where it caromed off the stick of a crashing Dwight King and into the net. While King did well to get himself and his stick in position, it was Carter's goal.
The remainder of the first period and the entirety of the second period showcased the type of puck possession tug-of-war that L.A. fans are not accustomed to seeing (especially after the Edmonton and Colorado games, in which the Kings compiled a 128-85 Corsi For advantage). The period also exhibited some fine examples of Kings forwards trying—but failing—to be Jeff Carter.
every time a puck is loose in the neutral zone and an LA King is skating after it I yell "WHY AREN'T YOU JEFF CARTER"— Eric (@EricJFTC) April 7, 2015
Even Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams got into the act, turning clear breakaways into Jarret Stoll/Trevor Lewis lessons in how not to score.
By the time the third period was underway, Kings fans were fully expecting the other shoe to drop.
that fun time in a hockey game where you're basically just waiting for the inevitable goal by the other team for the loss : D— John Carroll (@toshanshuinLA) April 7, 2015
And indeed the other shoe did drop, but this time only for the tie. After a Matt Greene holding penalty, the Kings did an admirable job killing a threatening Canucks power play. But they couldn't quite clear the zone, and then the Sedins happened. Henrik Sedin, having brought the puck from the blue line to the goal line, feigned a wrap-around attempt. Instead, while behind the net, he made a backhand, no-look pass by the collapsed Kings defense to his brother Daniel Sedin, whose one-timer from left of the slot sailed by Quick and into the far top corner.
The Kings survived the balance of the third period, although it seemed like the Sedins were on the ice every shift (and threatening). After some typical kind-of-not-really breakaway chances for both teams in the four-on-four overtime period, the Kings were handed their death sentence: a shootout. Nick Bonino and Radim Vrbata missed their attempts on Quick, as Carter and Kopitar were stopped by Eddie Lack on theirs. But the Canucks' third shooter, Chris Higgins, swung to Quick's left at the last second and buried a backhand. Lack stopped Marian Gaborik to end the night and secure the victory for the Canucks.
Though they gained a point in the standings, the overtime loss leaves the Kings temporarily out of a playoff spot. They're tied with Calgary for third in the Pacific Division with 93 points, but Calgary has the tiebreaker. And they're a point behind Winnipeg, who won today, for the last wild-card spot.
Conclusion: Shootouts are still stupid.
Next up: at Edmonton Tuesday night. Yay!