Islanders @ Kings Recap: Jones Earns Shutout in 3-0 Win
Martin Jones makes 16 stops, while Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown take care of business at the other end.
The Los Angeles Kings played a rather crappy first period, but they buckled down in the second and third to grab a comfortable two points. Then again, the one and only Martin Jones was in net, and the struggling New York Islanders were the ones trying to score. Of course it was comfortable!
In reality, it was a rather crappy first thirty minutes or so for LA, and with the Islanders also struggling to generate chances the first period didn't provide a whole lot of entertainment. The closest anyone came to a goal? When Martin Jones was stranded behind his net and the puck trickled to the front of an empty crease; the Kings managed to clear the puck then, and their defense was responsible throughout the period in assistance of their young goalie. The Kings' defense had more work to do than the Islanders' did, as LA's reshuffled lines struggled to apply pressure. Kevin Poulin (who stymied the Kings for two periods in their last matchup) had to contend with a couple cycles from King-Kopitar-Carter line and not much else.
So with nothing much happening on offense and the power play continuing to struggle, Sutter shuffled his lines pretty much continuously for the remainder of the game. Brown-Stoll-Williams? Richards-Vey-Toffoli? Not anymore! In fact, Tyler Toffoli got a fourth line shift in the first period on his way to another ten-minute game, and Linden Vey got about the same amount of ice time. Gotta work on building trust, I guess. LA started off the second period with an almost-full power play, and I was two minutes late getting back to my seat after intermission; needless to say, I didn't miss a Kings goal. The Islanders almost scored, though, with Casey Cizikas getting a shorthanded break stopped by Jones.
The Islanders also forced Martin Jones into a couple saves on the power play, but at even strength they got absolutely nothing going. Anze Kopitar mercifully broke the dreadlock with seven minutes to go in the second, as he and Alec Martinez noticed the Isles making a line change and took advantage. Martinez earned his first point in a month with a gorgeous lead pass off the boards from his own zone. Kopitar was streaking and came into the zone with only Travis Hamonic to beat. He did so with no problem, darting to his left to get around Hamonic and forcing Poulin to move sideways as well. Kopitar then shot against the grain, hitting the top corner to put the Kings up 1-0.
Those expecting a response from the Islanders were disappointed; the Kings actually played much better after going ahead and always looked more likely to score than the Islanders. The one exception was when Josh Bailey got a breakaway on (guess what) a Kings power play! After Jake Muzzin bobbled the puck at the blue line, he doubled back and high-sticked Bailey as Bailey hit the post, and the Kings escaped with only a minor penalty and not a penalty shot. Of course, opposing power plays have been just as unsuccessful as Kings power plays lately, so no harm done.
Poulin was tested by Vey and Toffoli in the third, but it took an appearance from the captain to give LA some insurance. Sutter put Stoll, Brown, and Williams back together in the third, and all three figured into the goal. Stoll dumped the puck in along the boards from the red line. Williams met the puck on the other side and pushed it behind the net. Stoll got to it and freed it from underneath his skates. And Brown swooped in, grabbed the puck, and tucked it behind Poulin on a wraparound before the goalie could get across. As wraparounds go, it was a pretty nice move, and it made the final minutes a lot more comfortable.
Jones still had a little work to do before earning his first career shutout, but a big pad save on Cal Clutterbuck with five minutes remaining was his last real test. The Kings' defense (with special recognition for Doughty and Regehr, who were both very good again) took care of the rest. Meanwhile, Toffoli added an empty-netter to provide the final 3-0 margin, and the Kings wrapped things up soon after. The Kings always look good in forum blue and gold, but it took a while for the hockey to match last night. Nonetheless, it's two points at the end of a homestand, and another memorable night for Martin Jones.