By now, everyone generally knows the keys to success for any given hockey game: get off to a quick start, stay out of the penalty box, capitalize on your opponent’s weaknesses. In the first period, the Kings weren’t able to do any of those things, and while they turned on the jets in the last 40 minutes, it wasn’t enough to overcome a poor start and an incredibly dialed-in Ryan Miller.
[ Box Score ]
The game had poor momentum from the very start. There were five stoppages in play over the first two minutes, including a high-sticking penalty call on Jake Muzzin (which occurred right after a face off). The Canucks scored their first goal off of that power play, with Loui Eriksson being allowed to go almost unchallenged to the net to lift one high on Peter Budaj’s right side.
Peter Budaj was solid the rest of the period, turning back 11 of 12 shots that he faced. After the abysmal first period, one would think the Kings would do what they usually do: regroup, reset, come back out and change the game.
Well, they did -- sort of. And they didn’t.
Just 23 seconds into the second period, after Ryan Miller denied a Kings chance in the Canucks end, rookie defenseman Troy Stecher takes a shot that gets tipped in by Henrik Sedin for his eighth of the year.
Despite the early goal, the Kings did what they usually do: they took over the game. Budaj didn’t get much work to do over the remainder of the game, just facing eight shots total over the final 40 minutes. The Kings controlled possession and pelted Miller with 31 shots over the last two periods. Miller stopped all of them except for this laser of a shot from Tanner Pearson:
Pearson’s goal was his first in 16 games. While it gave the Kings a spark of life at the end of the third, Miller was playing like it was a throwback night to his prime, turning away every shot that he faced.
A few more numbers before we go:
1: the number of shots for Jeff Carter. When the other team knows who your best, most consistent player has been, they do their best to shut them down. Focusing on Carter gave Pearson the freedom to roam, though; he had a team-high five shots (tied with Alec Martinez).
26: straight successful penalty kills in the last 10 games for the Kings. That came to an end tonight with Eriksson’s first period goal.
8: wins on the season for Ryan Miller. His numbers haven’t been great as of late and he’s been pulled twice in his last five starts, but when he’s on, he’s on.
500: the number of NHL games Devin Setoguchi has played. For someone who’s weathered such a rough patch professionally and personally over the past few years, the milestone has to be all the more significant.
The Kings head to Edmonton to take on the Oilers on Thursday to finish out their road trip. The Oilers have a pretty average record at home and four wins in their last ten, so it’s a chance for the Kings to end the road trip on a high note and head back to California with a win.