There's a lot to unpack with this game so let's start with some positives: Darryl Sutter got his 200th win with the Los Angeles Kings, the most he's had with any team in his illustrious career while Dean Lombardi picked up his 400th win as General Manager. Sutter is the 53rd bench boss in NHL history to get at least 200 wins with one team, so that's pretty cool. He needs only 16 more to pass Andy Murray as the winningest coach in franchise history.
Regardless of what the final score ends up being, the game-winning goal at the very least came off Alec Martinez 's stick on the power play. Jeff Carter continues to tap into his new dad powers and started the scoring for the Kings after Mark Borowiecki boarded Tyler Toffoli early in the first period.
Borowiecki boarding major on Toffoli pic.twitter.com/2ivXezlyse— Stephanie (@myregularface) December 10, 2016
First period MVP: the ref, for shielding Toffoli after the melee broke out around him. A true hero.— Jewels frm the Crown (@JFTC_Kings) December 10, 2016
Thanks to that ref, there was no repeat of what happened to Philip Larsen while Cupcake was down on the ice. Toffoli did leave the game for a while but did return, whereupon he immediately took a penalty. He went from zero penalties in 23 games to four in the last four. This is not a streak anyone wants to see from him.
But, fortunately the Kings' penalty kill was up to snuff today as the team managed to kill off all four power plays. Peter Budaj had one of his best starts in a Kings uniform and was excellent when the Senators had the man advantage. His movements were sharp, crisp and efficient with no extra wasted energy, which is nice to see considering his last few games were rather forgettable.
Speaking of power plays, the Senators had the 6th best in the league coming into this game but scored no goals in this afternoon's matchup. The Kings, on the other hand, were 28th in the NHL and scored three times, while their 26th ranked penalty kill (Senators were 5th) was perfect. Sometimes hockey is weird. But this is a good weird that everyone will take every single time.
Scorers for Los Angeles include Carter, Martinez and Marian Gaborik. Trevor Lewis had the team's only even-strength goal and it's hotly contest by the Sens because of coulombs! Yes, folks, as Eric wrote earlier, there was another malfunction with the clock and Ottawa is claiming that the time was off, thereby allowing Lewis to score with less than seconds left in the period.
Being that this is the Kings, that wasn't the only odd thing to happen in that period. Chris Neil was initially assessed a slashing penalty after he broke Nick Shore's stick. The television broadcast went to commercial, the player went to the box and everyone assumed the Kings would have a power play. Except, as the broadcast returned from break, Neil was skating back to the bench. Wait, what?
when you talk yourself out of a penalty pic.twitter.com/aazIBe7Iv1— Stephanie (@myregularface) December 10, 2016
According to Sean O'Donnell, one apparent eagle-eyed linesman determined that Shore's stick was broken before Neil slashed it. Therefore, it's not a penalty.
the penalty that was announced for slashing on Neil...nevermind. I swear, the NHL makes up the rules as it goes along.— Helene Elliott (@helenenothelen) December 10, 2016
You said it, Helene.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau got the Senators' lone goal, though not for lack of trying. Cody Ceci had three shots in the first period and the visitors really controlled the entire middle frame.
Wow. OTT up 29-10 ES Corsi (20-5 in 2nd), 11-6 Scoring chances, 5-4 High-danger. OTT 1.19-LAK 1.15 xGF (all situations)— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) December 10, 2016
In the final 20 minutes, the guys in black and grey and gold piping actually came back to life. As the seconds ticked away, Tanner Pearson got on his horse and hustled to draw a penalty. Despite there not being any shot on net before Gaborik's eventual goal, it was probably one of their best kicks at the can up to that point. The passing was smooth, the team did a good job of keeping the puck in and just moving around well.
Marian Gaborik's first goal of the season was all sorts of beautiful. pic.twitter.com/dAR9ig4SQr— #LAKings (@LAKings) December 10, 2016
Gaborik's first goal of the season could not have been much prettier. Nice screen in front by Dustin Brown, too.
"Go McFlurries!" - Trevor Lewis pic.twitter.com/r2laKvlXPO— #LAKings (@LAKings) December 11, 2016