The Kings are winning games with only two goals and Rob Scuderi is again manning the blue line. Is it literally 2012 again? Fresh off the trade from Chicago that sent Christian Ehrhoff to the Blackhawks for old LA stalwart Rob Scuderi, he took the ice in a Kings uniform for the first time in nearly three years. However, the 37 year old veteran finished positive on the night in shot attempt differentials, so I've firmly planted my thumb on my nose in preparation of a juvenille display for the nay-sayers.
In all seriousness, Rob Scuderi was what we always expected in past years - slow, but predictable. He was sound positionally down low and despite his 19 minutes of ice time, gave up no egregious scoring chances. So, yikes on the ice time, but Jake Muzzin did end up spending the majority of the night with Drew Doughty, as we've grown accustomed to these past few days. For Rob Scuderi's return, Los Angeles fans were happy to give him a warm welcome. For their part, the Kings paid tribute to Scuderi's single greatest contribution to the Kings' championship run by helping us relive the five minute boarding major all over again.
Welcome back, #7.https://t.co/tooCwKWkT8— LA Kings (@LAKings) February 28, 2016
The first period kicked off to another very slow start for the Kings, as we've seen quite often the past few games. Fortunately, the Kings did a good job making the start was also quiet for the Sabres, and both teams rode out a pretty uneventful first period, including a near yawn-inducing power play by the Sabres. Things seemed off to an equally slow start in the second when LA's own power play mostly fizzled out. Anze Kopitar had a goal disallowed for contact with a high stick before, and it began to look as if luck was showing its hand early.
As the second period got going, Buffalo's defense began to break down, and there were increasingly larger gaps for the Kings' skaters to negotiate, ultimately giving them time they shouldn't have had. Nearly five minutes into the period, Rob Scuderi pushed a soft pass to new partner Alec Martinez who unleashed a one time blast to the net. Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner gave up a juicy rebound to the slot where Tanner Pearson easily skated and buried the puck. This is the point where the Kings began to exploit the space given to them and extend shifts in the Sabres' end, giving us the hockey we've grown accustomed to from the Kings.
Buffalo would earn two more power plays in the second period, including an opportunity created off a tripping penalty on Dustin Brown when his stick got caught up in a defender's pants. Brown then scored off a pass from Kopitar for one of the most Dustin Brown moments ever. Thankfully, the power plays were harmless thanks to sloppy zone entries by the Sabres and numerous clears from the defending Kings. What ensued into the third was mostly even hockey where the Kings displayed a slight edge with their zone time.
As the Kings neared crunch time in the second half of the third period, they got their insurance goal when a similar situation to the first real, actual goal played out thanks to Jake Muzzin. A nifty fake shot opened up a clear lane to the net which allowed a shot on net with another big rebound. Who else would be in the slot to bury the rebound but Tanner Pearson? It was his fourth goal in the past several games, beginning with the overtime game winner in New York. The goal also put him into double digits on the year. If there was a message to be had from his healthy scratch prior to New York, Tanner got it loud and clear.
On the rebound pic.twitter.com/ll83mP7CNS— LA Kings (@LAKings) February 28, 2016
The Sabres made an admirable push in the closing minutes of the third, and the excitement was capstoned by highlight reel saves from both goaltenders as the game wore down to the final few minutes. Fortunately, the Kings held on and proved the best way to dispatch notoriously stubborn Sabres teams is to play their former goalies against them. The Kings won their fourth straight and preserved their point margin over the Ducks, whom they play later tonight.