To say this game started out slow would be an understatement.
Eight minutes into the first period, there was a combined two shots on goal between the Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild. Eleven minutes in? Four total shots. The period ended with shots 7-6, Minnesota leading. Unblocked shots and attempts (Corsi) weren’t much more inspiring — 13-10, again with Minnesota leading. It was as if they were determined to feel each other out in the neutral zone for the entire game.
You don’t need a ton of shots, though, you just need enough of them to go in.
The Wild opened scoring with four minutes remaining in the first. Rookie phenom Kirill Kaprizov drove to the middle and made a quick backhand pass through traffic to defender Jonas Brodin, who one-timed it past Jonathan Quick before he ever saw it coming.
The Kings responded before the period closed with a goal from Jeff Carter off a face-off with one second left in the period, sending them to the dressing room unexpectedly tied.
I’m happy to report that it started looking like a hockey game after that. Jonathan Quick made a few big saves in the early shifts of the second period and again during the penalty kill.
Though shots and Corsi evened out, LA doubled up on Minnesota in scoring chances in the middle frame and scoring was all Kings in the second. Andreas Athanasiou struck seven minutes in, as he and Jeff Carter drove into the offensive zone against Ryan Suter and Matt Dumba. Dustin Brown and Adrian Kempe combined for a power play goal to put the Kings up 3-1 before the second period closed out. That would be the only power play tally of the game, despite ten opportunities between the two teams. It also marked Brown’s 300th NHL goal.
Kaprizov’s impact on this game was huge, turning things around for the Wild, despite their defensive lapses. He made a dish to Victor Rask, and again the Wild beat Quick with a one-timer through a lot of traffic in front of the net. Gabriel Vilardi was stopped on a chance to regain a two-goal lead shortly after. Halfway through the period, Marcus Foligno beats Quick on a weird play in front of the net, after Olli Maaatta lost track of the puck.
The Kings held off a regulation win by the Wild, but Kaprizov took his third point of the night in a big way: notching an overtime breakaway goal. Yes, it did go off his skate, but in a totally legal way where he wasn’t kicking it in.
Despite the ultimate collapse in the third period, the Kings looked pretty good in tonight’s game and drove play at 5-on-5. The Carter and Athanasiou goal was a thing of beauty.
But the Wild were able to find those split second decisions — Foligno finding the puck and chucking it toward the net before anyone realized what happened, Kaprizov nabbing the puck in the neutral zone and making off like a runway train with it in OT — and make good on them.
At least they got a point, eh?