Columbus Blue Jackets @ LA Kings Game Six Recap: Hockey Fights Cancer
At Staples Center, purple was the color of choice for LA's Hockey Fights Cancer night while the teams battled it out for two points on the ice.
This was not high event hockey. This was low event hockey at near bare minimums. At least it felt that way watching it.
The Columbus Blue Jackets came to town and they brought with them a typical John Tortorella approach - block shots, clog up the neutral zone and bore your opponent to death. That's of course rather unfair to the Jackets as they actually have a fairly skilled team with a lot of good, young players. Still. After seeing what the Los Angeles Kings managed to do against a high octane team like the Dallas Stars and (sort of) hanging to barely beat the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout, this game felt like a bit of an emotional letdown.
Perhaps it's because these two teams see each other but twice a year, the first period was rather... low key, shall we say. The Kings managed 11 shots on goal while the Jackets were credited with only 6. Neither team was whistled for any obvious infractions and neither team scored. Kings certainly held the edge in corsi and chances, though they couldn't quite finish.
LAK 22-14 ES corsi, 8-5 Scoring chances, 3-0 High-danger in the 1st...keep it up!— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) October 26, 2016
The second period did not start off favorably for the home team. Alec Martinez turned the puck over to Brandon Saad in the neutral zone and he wasted no time with a laser beam over the shoulder of Peter Budaj.
Saad goal pic.twitter.com/xu7T68QeHZ— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 26, 2016
But fear not because Captain Anze Kopitar is here to save -- er at least tie the game. With speed through the neutral zone, Tyler Toffoli crossed the offensive blue line with control, passed it to Kopitar who literally jumped over a sprawling Jackets player, skated behind the net, passed it to Tom Gilbert who made a great heads up play to patiently wait a beat for things to settle down before he found Kopitar who somehow beat Sergei Bobrovsky, who, by the way, is having a fantastic start to his season. Whatever injuries or slumps he was suffering last season, "Bob" seems to have regained his confidence that he's actually good.
Kopistar ties the game pic.twitter.com/3EZARZM8I2— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 26, 2016
But then Dustin Brown took a penalty and the Kings' PK, while not quite as mired as the Chicago Blackhawks', went to work and, well, I'm sure you can guess what happened next.
Atkinson goal pic.twitter.com/4mHStykhif— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 26, 2016
While the game hadn't really been going LA's way up to this point, and it's easy to complain (guilty, oh so guilty), they actually weren't as bad as it seemed in the second period.
Kings doing more right than wrong, up 40-23 ES corsi, 18-7 scoring chances...CBJ PP, NZ turnover have them down + CBJ bending, not breaking— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) October 26, 2016
If you've been a Kings fan for longer than five minutes, then you wouldn't have had super high hopes for the third period. Out chancing, out shooting, seemingly outworking the Jackets at every turn and they couldn't get past the netminder. The writing was basically on the wall. Even Bob Miller started some clock watching with a comment that the Kings were running out of time around the 6 minute mark. Of course, immediately after he said that, Nick Shore and Drew Doughty teamed up to tie the game again.
Doughty ties the game, 2-2 pic.twitter.com/CPogAtgUA4— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 26, 2016
Shore showed immense patience on this play, just waiting out Columbus defenders until Doughty was in position. Was it a goal that Bobrovsky would like to have back? Absolutely. But I guess that's why you shoot from anywhere at all times because you never know when the puck may leak through the goalie's 7-hole.
Credit where credit is due. It would've been really easy for the Kings to give up, pack it in and just say "Ah, we'll get 'em next time." They stayed even keel, kept pressing and were eventually rewarded with a goal. The Jackets, also, did not give up after the tying goal. They pressed, but LA managed to hold Columbus off to force overtime.
That's when Tanner, Tyler and Martinez went to work.
Martinez OT winner pic.twitter.com/oJJg0Rtx4g— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 26, 2016
October 26, 2016
For three-on-three overtime, Darryl Sutter chose to reunite two of his younger players and pair them with a puck-moving defenseman (a common theme at least so far this year). For his first and only shot on goal of the game, Tanner Pearson's wrist shot just squeaked between Bobrovsky's arm and his body and Martinez was there once again to clean up the garbage.
Maybe it had something to do with last change or perhaps the long change, but the key to this play was LA being able to get fresh bodies on the ice while Columbus's starting trio had been out for over a minute. Toffoli hounded Saad, stripped him of the puck and sent everybody up the other way.
LAK 61-36 ES Corsi, 26-11 scoring chances, 7-2 High-danger...so there's that— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) October 26, 2016
The Kings of 3v3 reign again.
"I just scored an OT goal to win the game! Nothing in the world could make this moment better...— PumperNicholl (@PumperNicholl) October 26, 2016
OH MY GOD I'M ABOUT TO HUG TYLER TOFFOLI!" pic.twitter.com/OpNlHNFsNc