The Los Angeles Kings pulled off something they haven’t done since they defeated Montreal 3-0 on October 11th: play a full 60 minutes.
The Kings earned their second win in the last three games (also their second win in the last nine) as they defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 on Saturday night. Beating the Blue Jackets seemed to be a tall order with Artemi Panarin off to a flying start and their 4-1 domination over the San Jose Sharks a couple of days prior.
Dustin Brown, who had a goal and two assists, still believes strongly in this year’s team: “It’s a big home stand for us and we kind of put ourselves in a tough position, but I believe in our group. For me personally, I’m just glad to be back in the room helping these guys.”
The first shocker of the game occurred at 12:03 of the first period when Alex Iafallo’s fourth goal of the season marked the first time in nine games (again, the Montreal game) that Los Angeles scored the first goal. Coincidentally, it also was the first game since October 18th (vs. the New York Islanders) that the Kings scored in the first 20 minutes.
“It gives you confidence [scoring first] it kind of gives you a spark, but I thought we just played the right way defensively and that led to a really strong offense tonight,” said goaltender Jack Campbell, who made 26 saves. “It was a really big game by everybody tonight. We won a lot of puck battles which eliminated their offensive zone time and shots on goal.”
Jeff Carter made it 2-0 at 10:10 of the second after converting a brilliant cross-ice feed from Ilya Kolvachuk.
Shocker number two came just 29 seconds into the third as Zach Werenski scored for Columbus after he beat Dion Phaneuf down the ice and buried it past Campbell after receiving a perfect centering pass from Boone Jenner. Anyone who watches the Kings will tell you that this type of goal is “just so Kings.”
But then, the Kings took over.
After Sergei Bobrovsky milked a Kolvachuk goalie interference out of the referees after taking a dive, the Kings special teams went back to work, this time on the penalty kill with a pair of short-handed goals less than a minute apart. Anze Kopitar picked up his own rebound and went top shelf on Bobrovsky at 7:46.
Brown put it away 57 seconds later on a penalty shot.
”It’s really disappointing,” Columbus captain Nick Foligno said. “This game’s just disappointing. I mean it’s not on anyone but the players. We gotta get guys in here who commit to the team. Do it when it’s hard. Do it the way we need to do it as a team, not when it’s easy when you’re scoring goals and you’re feeling it. We’ve crossed that bridge. Teams know we’re a good team so we’re getting a team’s best, but we aren’t giving teams our best. One game we play like world-beaters and the next game like slobs. I don’t understand it and it pisses me off as the captain of the team.”
On the other hand, Kings Coach John Stevens, who was more than happy to get off the hot seat for a night, was encouraged by his team’s play, “Our whole approach to the game in terms of our preparation, in terms of Columbus plays really hard, and we had to match their work ethic tonight. I thought our mindset was exactly that. I thought the PK was the best it’s been all year in terms of pressure, not just because they scored, but because they put pressure on entries and not just give up the zone and allow extended zone time. Power play, we went right into attack mode and scored a big goal so there was just a 5-on-5 working mindset that carried over to special teams.”
Panarin, aka the Breadman, was held scoreless and stuck on 15 points, giving the Kings a gluten-free night. … Carter had two points (1-1-2) as was named the number one star of the night. Brown was the second star, while Campbell was third. … Bobrovsky made 25 saves and is now 3-6 on the year. … Kovalchuk has two goals and four assists over the past three games and is quietly up to 11 points in his comeback campaign. ... Kopitar also extended his point streak to three straight (1-2-3). ... 21-year Matt Luff made his NHL debut on the third line wearing number 64 (first King to don this number in franchise history).