The Winnipeg Jets are not good. They are near the bottom of the Western Conference, and they've lost many good players whether to trade or injury. The Kings showed this by putting up a very dominating first period, which was reminiscent of their first period against the Wild on Tuesday. It also reminded us of that period in that the Kings couldn't manage a single goal.
With the Kings facing a fair few injuries, we are seeing some different faces in the lineup. Some are old (Andy Andreoff), and some are new (Nic Dowd). It's been quite the change for Dowd, who has essentially seen 2C duties in the two games he has played for the Kings. Playing with Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli probably makes his job fairly easy, but he's certainly earned his keep with his play on both sides of the puck. One side effect of this lineup, however, is that there appears to be no second line. Aside from the first line, no other forward got more than 14:30 of ice time. That's quite simply too little ice time for a player like Tyler Toffoli.
As for defense, Brayden McNabb has been with Drew Doughty for the second game in a row after the latter had Rob Scuderi surgically removed from his hip. This has made for quite the scary pairing in Scuderi and Luke Schenn, but thankfully it appears that we'll see them for low teen minutes each night. McNabb actually had a good night too. He was separating players from the puck without missing hits, and he made a nice display of patience to out-wait a sliding defender trying to block a shot.
All together, this lineup was absolutely suffocating in the first period. The Kings did everything except put up an actual, real goal. Unlike the Wild two nights prior, the Jets were unable to score on one of their four shots, sending the game to the first intermission scoreless.
1st period: LAK 25-7 5v5 Corsi, 16-1 Scoring chances, 6-1 High-danger— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) March 25, 2016
By the time of the second period, the Winnipeg Jets had realized a couple of things. First, they were in an active hockey game. Second, they realized they were allowed to attempt playing hockey, too. These sudden realizations made for a much more normal period of hockey, and both teams earned a goal for their efforts. The first goal came midway through the period on a power play zone entry. Anze Kopitar entered on the wing side with speed and options. Rather than passing to Jeff Carter in the middle, he simply spotted some space on the far side of the goal and beat Ondrej Pavelec cleanly. Unfortunately, a defensive miscue late in the period allowed Adam Lowry to net the equalizer.
Things really got bad in the third period. Just fifteen seconds in, Dustin Byfuglien unleashed a blast from the point that Jonathan Quick was screened on. Two minutes later, and on consecutive shot attempts, the same thing happened courtesy of Paul Postma. Despite trailing for most of the period, the Kings put up their weakest effort in the third against a Jets team that had clearly adjusted by then. The Kings managed just five shots on net all period, half of the Jets' total of ten. As the end came on, the Kings' effort began to match their result. Once the net was empty, their effort was particularly weak, and the Jets only needed one attempt on the open net.
The Kings are very fortunate the Ducks, Sharks, and Stars all lost last night as well (though the Ducks gained a point in overtime). This means the standings were pretty much in a stalemate, and they get to try it all over on Saturday. By then, perhaps both Vincent Lecavalier and Kris Versteeg will be back in the lineup, though it will actually be sad to see Nic Dowd go. Seeing the play of Nic Dowd is encouraging for the King's bottom six next year, at least. Going forward, the Kings can still win the division, and they could even win the conference if they go win-for-win with the Stars and also win their last matchup in regulation. That's pretty amazing to say after the first three game regulation losing streak since the start of the season.