The Los Angeles Kings played a complete game at Staples Center against their Southern California rival Anaheim Ducks. Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, and Anze Kopitar — members of their championship core — provided the goals. Cal Petersen and Jack Campbell — possible goalies of the future — combined for the shutout. Seemingly every forward line took their turns at the driver’s seat in establishing a strong forecheck in generating a series of scoring chances. Outside much of the second period (with the long change) and early in the third, the team demonstrated poise in minimizing the Ducks’ time spent in their offensive zone, and limiting their dangerous chances when they did.
- Kings 1 - Ducks 0, 1st Period
Jeff Carter (1), from Blake Lizotte (1) at 2:56
The Kovalchuk-Lizotte-Carter line established a forecheck off a chip in. Blake Lizotte separated the puck from a Ducks defender, who quickly found Jeff Carter in the high slot, who snapped one in between Ducks goalie Ryan Miller’s pads.
- Kings 2 - Ducks 0, 3rd Period
Dustin Brown (1), unassisted at 8:32, short-handed
The Kings were forced into killing off a 2-man disadvantage. After the Kings got one man back, a Ducks player rocketed a shot wide of the net. Dustin Brown played the carom off the boards and generated enough speed for a 2-on-1 break the other way with Anze Kopitar. Brown opted to shoot, and the puck trickled through Miller’s pads for the goal.
- Kings 3 - Ducks 0, 3rd Period
Anze Kopitar (1), from Alex Iafallo (1) and Ben Hutton (1), at 18:34, empty net
With the Ducks pulling the goalie for the extra attacker with two minutes left in the game, the Kings demonstrated poise in their own end. The Ducks never really gained control of the puck with the extra skater on the ice. A few calm passes and a loft of the puck only left the shutout in doubt with about a minute and a half to go.
Other Aspects of the Game
The Kings improved to 3-1-1 in the preseason. The effort was far better down the stretch in this game, compared to their OT loss to the Vegas Golden Knights last week, or their win over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night, where they gave up a few late goals. Despite merely a 10-9 SOG advantage in the first period, the Kings generated 24 shot attempts to the Ducks’ 13. The Kings spent a majority of the period in the offensive zone, in which all four lines were generating chances off the forecheck or the rush.
In the second period, the Ducks were able to generate quality scoring chances, mostly from their strong forecheck. Granted the long change contributed to the issue, the Kings had stretches in that period with tired players on the ice. Midway through the period, defensemen Sean Walker and Kurtis MacDermid stayed on the ice for a long stretch, with the Ducks hemming them in. An icing call made matters worse. It led to a Sean Walker penalty. Cal Petersen showed he was up for the Ducks’ push, playing aggressive in net. During the Ducks power play, he stopped a Grade A one-timer shot from Ryan Getzlaf.
At the start of the third period, the Ducks continued their strong forecheck. The Kings eventually pushed back, up until their 2-man disadvantage. After Brown’s shorthanded goal, the Kings almost seemingly regained dominance, once again generating chance after chance.
I was at the Kings/Ducks game a few Januarys ago in which three fights took place (on the ice) within six seconds of actual game time. Perhaps it really is how things are these days, but there were no fighting majors among the hated rivalries, which was a slight surprise. As for the play, it’s looking like the Los Angeles Kings will be playing four forwards during their power plays. Another interesting aspect of their game that wasn’t so prevalent last year is the second wave attack they have deployed with more regularity; with the forwards entering the offensive zone with speed, they’re finding the defensemen entering the zone late for Grade A scoring opportunities
Kings that Stood Out
With all forward lines generating scoring chances, the defense mostly playing with calmness, and the goalies stopping the tough saves with seeming ease, the only players that didn’t shine were the healthy scratches for the night. But if I must:
- Ben Hutton led the team in ice time. He demonstrated the solid veteran presence from the blueline the Kings were hoping, with much of the defense corps either inexperienced or injured.
- Blake Lizotte showed great chemistry with his linemates Jeff Carter and Ilya Kovalchuk. What really stood out was his ability to disrupt the Ducks puckhandling, forcing turnovers, and often generating scoring chances from them. The Kings’ first goal demonstrated that.
- Tobias Bjornfot was paired up with Drew Doughty, which meant going up against the Ducks top players. He showed he was more than up for the challenge, as the Ducks never seemed to have the puck in their offensive zone while he was on the ice. In spite of the possible higher pressure situations, Bjornfot maintain his solid skating and stickhandling skills.
To the Next Game
They play the Ducks in Anaheim on Wednesday. Surely, both teams will be dressing other players. As for this game, the players who suited up presented a strong case for big minutes, or roster spots.