You’ve gotta be willing to engage in the hard areas of the rink. That’s to score goals and to prevent goals. [The Ducks] had 24 shot blocks last night, we had twelve. To me, that’s the difference in the game.
There are certain compete indicators in a hockey game. I think faceoffs is a compete indicator, I think shot-blocking is a compete indicator.
That was John Stevens on January 20, addressing the six-game losing streak of the Los Angeles Kings. It sounds cliched, but he is right. Offensive production ebbs and flows, but effort on defense and rebounding has taken a lull, especially in the January 15 game against the San Jose Sharks, in which San Jose skated harder and pounced on rebounds to defeat the Kings.
And for a while, the losing woes appeared to continue. An innocuous shot by David Desharnais. And more rebounding failure as Jimmy Vesey whacked at the puck three times down low to give the New York Rangers an early 2-0 lead. Per Nick Nickson, it is the sixth game in a row in which the opponent has scored first.
But after Trevor Lewis and Tony DeAngelo tangled at the end of the first period, a late hit on Lewis by Brendan Smith was met by enforcement from whoa—Adrian Kempe?
It provided the spark the Kings long needed, as they scored on three straight power plays in three different ways. First Jake Muzzin scored off a point shot with traffic. Then Alec Martinez, from the corner, with a backhand pass to a wide-open Michael Amadio. Then Kempe, attempting to split two defenders on a rush, drew a penalty, which led to Tanner Pearson busting in a rebound for a 3-2 lead.
Martinez and Drew Doughty each scored two assists. Martinez and Derek Forbort each blocked three shots to provide the “compete” that John Stevens has spoken about. Amadio provided another young burst of energy for the Kings, as they outshot New York 12-6 in the second period on their way to winning a desperately needed game. With the Sharks defeating the Ducks 6-2, Anaheim is held at bay. The Kings are now tied with the Colorado Avalanche (who have won nine in a row) and Minnesota Wild for the final wild card spot.