Stop me if you’ve heard this before - a rough first period by the guys in grey (with black and gold trim) led to the other team scoring first.
The good news is that it wasn’t their first shot on goal; the bad news is that the Minnesota Wild scored on their second and fourth shots all within the first eight minutes of the game.
Jake Muzzin passed the puck out of his zone, intended for Tanner Pearson but Mikko Koivu read the play, intercepted and scored a goal 5-hole on Peter Budaj. On the broadcast, Jim Fox insisted the puck was deflected but it seems more like Budaj just wasn’t ready for it.
By the time Minnesota had doubled their lead, the LA Kings had managed to shoot on the net four times, but hadn’t yet beaten Darcy Kuemper, who, by the way, had a 4-1-1 record in six starts against LA coming into the game today.
The second goal against was a hilarious comedy of errors, in which the entire defensive structure completely fell apart and Jason Pominville turned Derek Forbort inside out so badly, the kid spent the rest of the period looking for his jockstrap.
Minnesota is fast on the forecheck pic.twitter.com/EANSJtnGvD— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) January 7, 2017
Following Charlie Coyle’s easy chip-in, Darryl Sutter called a timeout, settled the group and slowly the ship started to right itself. Los Angeles managed not to give up anymore goals (that period) and even started to look threatening a couple of times. There was still quite a bit of sloppiness, but as Fox noted on the broadcast in the second period, they were building on the good shifts.
As time wore on in the second period, it seemed a repeat of Thursday’s game was inevitable. Trevor Lewis had the best look to that point with Kuemper way out of position, though he shot it high above the net and it was probably partially blocked Jonas Brodin. Frustration was starting to mount; sticks were being gripped; doubt may have been creeping in. But never fear, Jeff Carter is here. The mid-season MVP candidate took it upon himself that the Kings were not getting shutout again. Starting in his own end, the team’s leading scorer gathered up speed and rushed down the wing before delivering one of his patented, deadly wrist shots.
Ever dangerous, Carter nearly tied the game a minute later. And then, behold!
What light through yonder window breaks! Ahem; signs of life in Marian Gaborik! The Slovak was credited with his second goal this season when his backhanded shot hit Kuemper’s pads then deflected off of Ryan Suter’s head.
Saint Carter blesses the puck before Gaborik's "miracle" pic.twitter.com/g0Q65dZgzJ— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) January 7, 2017
Kings got a power play late in the period and Muzzin nearly gave up a shorthanded breakaway after failing to keep the puck in at the blue line. They only managed one shot on goal but did have a few decent looks.
Seven seconds into the third period, Jared Spurgeon cross-checked Pearson, giving the Kings another crack at a go-ahead goal. It only took 47 seconds for Muzzin to give LA their first lead of the afternoon. Thanks to a moving screen by Pearson, Kuemper wasn’t able to track the puck, allowing the fuzzy-faced defenseman to score short side on his fellow Canadian.
The Wild were called for too many men but killed off the penalty rather handily. And then, because apparently the Kings hate success and just want to make their lives as difficult as possible, they took nearly two consecutive penalties of their own with Nic Dowd off for interference and then Nick Shore slashing Spurgeon. A couple of close calls later, the clock was ticking down and it appeared as though Los Angeles might be able to hang on for a regulation win. With just under two minutes to go, Drew Doughty tripped Mikael Granlund.
If you’ve been a Kings fan longer than this season, then you’ll know what happened next. Home team can’t get the clear they need and Zach Parise makes them pay.
So then it was off to overtime. Spoiler alert: The Kings of 3v3 OT prevailed yet again, having only been defeated once at the end of a very long road trip at the tail end of a back-to-back right before the holiday break.
It was a tight checking four minutes of hockey. There weren’t a lot of chances and there really weren’t any breathless, edge-of-the-seat enthralling moments, but Bruce Boudreau’s team kept things close enough that any time there were white jerseys near Budaj, it was enough to make the crowd a little tense. With about 90 seconds left, as eyes started to drift over to the clock, watching seconds tick away, nervously dreading a possible shootout, Alec Martinez teamed up with Anze Kopitar and Pearson to win the game in overtime (Pearson’s second OT winner this season).
In the end, the 50th anniversary jerseys remained undefeated as the home team came away with a just victory against a tough conference opponent.
Up next: the
endlessly long seven-game homestand continues with another Central Division opponent, the Dallas Stars. The Stars currently have a game in hand and are four points behind LA. They’re desperately fighting for the last wild card spot and should prove to be an interesting opponent, especially given how the last game ended.