Jeff Carter did all he could...
Actually, the Kings did all they could, too. Figures that when Sergei Bobrovsky gets a night off, his backup steals the game.
It’s easy to make the story “goalie steals game,” but we want to go beyond Curtis McElhinney’s (admittedly excellent) performance. So instead, we’ll look at our Ranker results from last night and go over the top five and bottom five. So...
Peter Budaj had himself a very nice night, though he was obviously overshadowed by the opposing netminder. One goal went off a skate and the other was from two feet out, so very few are holding anything against him. In fact, he saved the game by making a shorthanded stop on Boone Jenner in the final minute. For some reason there’s no video of that save, so here’s a less exciting one.
Jeff Carter scored twice in regulation, both times to tie the game, and once in the shootout, to keep hope alive. He got booed the whole time and seemed to enjoy it. His second goal, off a Sam Gagner turnover, was a perfect example of what has made him LA’s most dangerous player all season.
Drew Doughty was everywhere. After the Kings fell behind — and after the Kings fell behind again — Doughty seemed to take it upon himself to score the game-tying goal, and nearly did a couple times. It was reminiscent of that time Doughty knifed through Chicago’s defense because there was no time to do anything else, except this time, the only desperation was Doughty’s desperation to make an impact. Did it give LA a better chance of scoring? I don’t know, but it got the puck in the zone a lot. Plus, he made a subtle play leading up to the first power play goal to create space for Alec Martinez, and got an assist for his trouble.
Derek Forbort was Doughty’s partner. He played 24 minutes, to 21 for the Martinez/Muzzin pairing, and continued to hold down PK responsibilities. He’s top-four now, which is a good problem to have when Brayden McNabb comes back. Doughty said yesterday that he “loves” playing with Forbort.
Nic Dowd and Jordan Nolan tied for fifth. They had the two best Corsi For percentages on the team yesterday. Nolan hit a post, and Dowd got scrappy. It was part of a reasonably good effort from the bottom six; in particular, play-by-play man Ralph Strangis was impressed with Pearson-Dowd-Setoguchi.
On the other hand...
Trevor Lewis and Anze Kopitar were near the bottom. Both made intelligent plays throughout, were good on defense, and shifted the play to the Columbus end when they were on the ice. So what’s the problem? Four games without a point, mostly. Any scoring slump of more than a couple games is going to result in increased Captain-bashing, whether or not it’s deserved.
Nick Shore ended up low as well, but in this case, it’s deserved; he couldn’t get anything going, although he had a great chance to give LA the lead without five minutes to go. Last year’s leader in Corsi is now the worst among Kings forwards by that metric.
Matt Greene also got hemmed in his own zone more often than anyone else yesterday, but the Kings just keep killing off penalties with him on the ice.
Jake Muzzin, on the other hand, rarely got hemmed in. He was on for 44% of the Kings’ even strength shot attempts. But he was on for a 5v5 goal against (Cam Atkinson’s tap-in), making this the sixth game in his last seven where he’s been on the ice when the other team scored at even strength. The seventh game was a shutout. You’re gonna get downvoted for that.
All-in-all, it was a good showing from LA. But it’s going to feel like a major missed opportunity if the Kings can’t take one of the back-to-back games on Thursday or Friday.