Now back to hockey.
I’m still in disbelief. Total shock. To understand how special the ending of tonight’s matchup against the Boston Bruins was:
(Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” playing before the faceoff)
Alex Faust: Kopitar on the draw.... and he wins it back, TOFFOLI SCORES!!!!! OH MY!!!
Jim Fox: OH MY GOD, NO WAY, NO WAY! This is reviewable....
Alex Faust: With no time remaining!
(Fox discusses reviewing the goal)
Alex Faust: Have you ever....
Jim Fox: No! I have not!
The five minutes of overtime before this play were a flurry of entertainment. The Los Angeles Kings won the faceoff, and Drew Doughty beat Patrice Bergeron with a step move. He single-handedly drove to the net and shot a backhand wide, but was called for interference with Tuukka Rask. Doughty protested the call, but Bergeron was also penalized for slashing as he pushed Doughty into Rask.
Then on the next shift Alex Iafallo took matters into his own hands. Love this kid. He drove to the net to shoot it, and the net got dislodged.
Boston finally got possession, but Dustin Brown placed a huge hit onto David Pastrnak, taking him off of the puck. Another Boston chance was ruined as the puck rolled off a stick. Then both Anze Kopitar and Iafallo fell down leading to a precarious 2-on-1, but Jonathan Quick saved the shot by Charlie McAvoy—and the game. Rask then saved a dangerous odd man chance by Tyler Toffoli. Mesmerizing.
The Kings then established the cycle but Anders Bjork stole the puck near the blue line for a breakaway. Adrian Kempe was able to disrupt Bjork just enough without slashing, and Quick made another heroic save.
In the last minute, Tanner Pearson streaked down the right wing but the puck was poke checked away by Rask. It led to another odd man rush by Boston. Brad Marchand waited and waited, for a perfect pass to McAvoy, but McAvoy's second chance was stopped by Quick.
Boston was called for icing. With 0.9 seconds to go, the Kings pulled Quick. Why not? Boston, without a true center, was left with Pastrnak to take the faceoff against Kopitar. And then this happened:
When I saw the 0.4 on the clock in the replay, I was immediately taken back to May 13, 2004. The Los Angeles Kings were irrelevant back then, but it was the NBA playoffs and the Los Angeles Lakers were the big ticket in town. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal were taking on the hated, machine-like, fundamentally sound San Antonio Spurs. Tim Duncan shot a miraculous, fading-to-the-side 20-footer to put the Spurs up by one with 0.4 seconds left. And then this happened:
Tyler Toffoli’s goal was the play that fans always dream of and visualize in the final seconds of a game. A perfect faceoff win, followed by a perfect shot. It’s far-fetched and never happens, but fans keep on dreaming. But tonight, on a day that the Dodgers won Game 4 of the World Series, “the impossible has happened” in hockey for Toffoli and the Los Angeles Kings.
The first, second, and third periods were a chess match. The first period ended with both teams even, as Marchand and Toffoli scored. In the second period, Los Angeles took the upper hand with puck possession and help from funny TD Garden bounces. The Kings outshot the Bruins 12-5 in the second period. But the Kings’ chances were met with layers of Boston shot blockers. Two chances by Iafallo in front of the net, and a point-blank chance by Andy Andreoff (fed by Michael Amadio) could not be converted. Boston countered with a fake forehand pass, followed by a sexy behind-the-back pass by Pastrnak. It was a beauty but did not lead to a goal.
Early in the third period, Quick anticipated the puck would slide into the trapezoid behind his net to play it. It never did, allowing the Bruins to pass the puck to a wide open net. Fortunately Alec Martinez was there for the rescue. Martinez then had a wide-open shot on the power play but the puck sailed wide.
Kempe and Doughty did fantastic jobs riding Boston players out of the puck. The Pearson-Toffoli-Kempe line continued to make noise. With 3:50 to go, Pearson's long breakout pass connected with Toffoli for a partial breakaway. Toffoli's drag move evaded the Boston defender, but the shot went wide.
In the final two minutes, the Kopitar-Brown-Iafallo line put the Bruins on the ropes. Doughty, catching pucks with his skates and pivot turning away from defenders, was brilliant keeping the puck in the zone. Iafallo teed off with three shots near the hash marks, and Brown added another shot, but the Kings still could not score. It led to the overtime and stunning ending described above.
Toffoli is a pure shooter who is best when he’s wide open to take a shot. And he showed it tonight.
The Kings next face the St. Louis Blues on Monday, October 30.