Bruins @ Kings Recap: LA Finds Their Offense and Takes Down Boston
LA gets four goals for the first time in three weeks! And gets three of them quickly on Tuukka Rask, no less. The result is a 4-2 win.
December 19, 2013 was the last time the Los Angeles Kings scored more than three goals. It was also the last time someone other than a top six forward scored a goal. LA snapped both streaks tonight, and with the Boston Bruins in town, they enjoyed their healthiest offensive output in a while. A 4-2 final might have actually been kind to Boston; once Darryl Sutter got his ceremonial ostrich boots and the puck dropped, the Kings were in control.
They had to push through a few minutes of unsuccessful chances and a fruitless power play, but the Kings were able to get on the board early in this one, and it made a big difference. They got some help from Johnny Boychuk, who whiffed on a pass in the defensive zone. Anze Kopitar isn't one to miss an opportunity to take the puck away, and he reached out and tipped it away from Boychuk. Kopitar fed back to Jeff Carter, and after the pad of Tuukka Rask stopped the first shot, Carter put the rebound up high. Though Drew Doughty took a tripping penalty (please stop doing that, Drew) soon after, the Bruins couldn't get anything going, a common theme for the period.
How would the Kings follow up this excellent opening period? Fortunately, they followed it up with two quick goals early in the second this time. Eight scoring chances had put the Bruins on their heels, and apparently Dougie Hamilton decided the best course of action was to try and do something illegal! Hamilton was in the box for tripping Kopitar near the end of the first, and as his penalty expired, the Bruins cleared their zone along the boards. Hilariously, Hamilton reached out and picked up the puck before he had even stepped out of the box...
... which is not allowed. The Kings' ineffective power play didn't even need to cycle to beat Rask, as after losing the faceoff, Slava Voynov took the puck to center and found Justin Williams for a rush up the middle as Dustin Brown drew the defender to the side. Williams took a wrist shot which beat Rask under the arm for a power play goal. A minute and a half later, another goal, from a DEFENSEMAN! Mike Richards won the offensive zone draw, Robyn Regehr passed across, and Alec Martinez deposited a slap shot right in the top corner as Tyler Toffoli provided the screen. Picture-perfect, and Rask was pulled immediately.
Carl Soderberg hit the crossbar a minute after that on a backhand, but he'd eventually help the Bruins crack Jonathan Quick. A neutral-zone turnover by Justin Williams led to an odd-man rush the other way, and Matt Fraser converted a nice pass from Soderberg to get the Bruins on the board. The rest of the period was rather uneventful, though Kyle Clifford fought Adam McQuaid and Brad Marchand hit Jarret Stoll in the face with his stick. You know, par for the course.
All the Kings needed to do in the third was hold the lead, and though Carl Soderberg forced an excellent blocker save out of Quick early on, they weren't allowing too many opportunities for Boston to close the gap. Then, Dustin Brown put the game virtually out of reach with his second goal in three games. After the teams exchanged penalties, Williams found Jarret Stoll coming out of the defensive zone, and he set up a 2-on-1 with Brown. Brown elected to shoot and beat Chad Johnson with a wrister. Marchand nearly got the Bruins right back within 2 on a shorthanded breakaway, but Quick made the glove stop (pictured at the top of the article), and the goal Justin Florek scored with two minutes left was relatively meaningless as a result.
There's still more work to do for LA. The top six was great; the King-Kopitar-Carter line played well against the Bruins' top line and the Brown-Stoll-Williams line was consistently able to generate offense (including two goals) despite starting in their defensive zone relatively often. However, the bottom six still hasn't quite figured things out, and no, they didn't score again. Nick will have more on that. As for other recent weak spots: the Kings took only three minor penalties today, and a defenseman scored! So consider it progress for a team that really was only struggling in a couple areas.