Coyotes @ Kings Recap: Kopitar and Friends Continue to Light it Up
Featuring a cameo by Jamie McBain!
Shane Doan ended tonight's game by taking a hard slapshot at Jonathan Quick well after the buzzer. In fairness, it's gotta be frustrating trying to stop Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, and Marian Gaborik right now.
Gaborik-Kopitar-Carter on a power play is a helluva drug— Robert Paredes (@RobertJFTC) May 9, 2014
You know, a power play with Kopitar, Carter, and Gaborik always sounded good in theory. So far this season, though, the execution had been missing. Darryl Sutter attempted to remedy the Los Angeles Kings' power play woes by sending out his regular lines on the man advantage, rather than using specialized combinations. Now, we're going the other way: the line which was created specifically for the power play is now terrifying opponents at even strength. Their efforts drove today's 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes.
Case in point: look at goal number one. The three forwards have been terrific at getting things set up on the power play (more on that later), but the opening goal came from a nothing sort of play. Keith Yandle and the Coyotes were looking to start out from their own zone, but Anze Kopitar came in on the forecheck and blocked Yandle's clearing attempt. Kopitar waited for Jeff Carter to drift in from the point, and BANG:
Unsurprisingly, Gaborik, Kopitar, and Carter had the best possession numbers of any Kings forward, and Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin led the defense. The losing streak featured some scoring from guys like Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll, but the big guns weren't pulling their weight on the scoresheet. Consider that a thing of the past.
The second of Kopitar's three assists came on the power play, as he sat patiently in the middle of LA's power play "diamond." Jamie McBain (ahem, SECOND STAR Jamie McBain) finally was able to get the puck to Kopitar with about 20 seconds left on the PP, and with Carter screening Devan Dubnyk, the goalie never saw Marian Gaborik licking his chops and lining up at the open side of the net. McBain and Kopitar both picked up assists on LA's second power play goal as well; Kopitar won the draw to McBain, who gave it back. Kopitar had enough room for a cross-ice pass to Alec Martinez who blasted the go-ahead goal past Dubnyk.
The reason LA didn't already have the lead? Weird bounces. I'll give Martin Hanzal some credit for his goal, which came after a tough drive to the net with Jake Muzzin hanging all over him. His attempted backhand got a friendly deflection off the stick of Marian Gaborik, but still, effort! Kyle Chipchura's goal was a crazy deflection off Dwight King's skate and the ice, an ironic reversal of King's goal on Martin Brodeur from Thursday. LA's special teams eventually got the goals back, though, and a couple standout saves by Jonathan Quick were enough with the Kings dominating the shot battle.
Gaborik did take a hard shot near game's end, though, as Oliver Ekman-Larsson hit him up high. Oddly enough, he ended up getting an assist after the puck deflected off him while he was lying on the ice. Tyler Toffoli picked it up, stickhandled, and fed Trevor Lewis right on the doorstep for the clincher. The Kings haven't needed secondary scoring the last couple nights, but it's nice, yeah?
We'll wait anxiously for an update on Gaborik; it's way too early to split this line up.