At least the Los Angeles Kings gave us something to talk about.
Okay, lots of somethings, as their 3-2 loss — in regulation — to the Toronto Maple Leafs ended a seven-game season-opening point streak. From a bird’s eye view, there were similarities to the Kings’ victory over Columbus on Saturday. The Kings took on one of the tougher available opponents in the Eastern Conference, finished fairly even in both shots and chances, and fought against some difficult momentum swings. Unfortunately, the similarities ended there.
For one, the goaltending presented a much larger obstacle, which was odd considering that Sergei Bobrovsky was the netminder in the first game and Frederik Andersen (and his .881 save percentage) was the opponent tonight. Andersen started off his night with 28 consecutive saves, including six on a single early power play, and the Kings’ 17-shot first period onslaught resulted in nothing more than a 1-0 deficit. Not to say that Jonathan Quick was bad! Quite the opposite, as he had almost no chance on the first goal as Matt Martin set (according to the referees allowing it) a perfect screen:
I was as surprised as you were to see that Roman Polak was the shooter on that, and maybe the Polak-Martin combo scoring when Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, and Alex Iafallo didn’t was a bad sign. That first line struggled for the first time in a while, getting a big dose of defensive zone starts against Nazem Kadri’s line and straining under the weight. However, they didn’t see anything enter their own net until the third, when Patrick Marleau deflected Morgan Rielly’s point shot past Quick. Again, no chance for the goalie, as Marleau’s stick was up above his head:
The bad news was that Marleau was crouching and it was impossible to get a definitive look at the height of his stick. So the goal stood, and after a Mitch Marner tally had been disallowed for Martin’s interference on Quick earlier, maybe it was bound to happen. That goal put Toronto up 3-1, following rapid-fire goals by both teams near the end of the second. Tyler Bozak had scored in a netmouth scramble on the power play, while Adrian Kempe managed to solve the Andersen Riddle in a much simpler way than expected:
It might have been good to see the Kings force the issue after Kempe’s goal, especially now that Andersen had been beaten, but LA simply didn’t get things going and didn’t have much of a sniff until they were down two again. Even after that, the Kings didn’t find anything close to what they had going in the first period, and it took a moment of shorthanded brilliance from Trevor Lewis to make it a game again:
It was the second straight game with a nifty goal for Lewis, and after his assist in the first and some generally good 5-on-5 play, it was a nice reward. No one else got much of a reward tonight, though. Drew Doughty received a cut to the face from Patrick Marleau’s skate which could have been a whole lot worse, so that’s positive! Everyone else came out of this game with little to be excited about, though, and that’s especially true for Quick. His late penalty on Leo Komarov, for a well-placed blocker that sent Komarov to the ice (rather easily), put LA shorthanded for the final two minutes. More of an issue: the accidental punch he took from Derek Forbort. That led to a bizarre sequence where Quick was left in, pulled, re-inserted, pulled again, and finally sent back into the net for the remainder of the game.
It was weird as heck, but so was the rest of the game. We’ll see if things return to the new normal tomorrow against Ottawa.