Kings @ Canadiens Recap: LA Blasts Montreal, 6-0
Martin Jones is the main reason LA leads after one, but they overwhelm the Habs in the second period on their way to a rout in Montreal. It's their first win in the Canadiens' barn since 1999.
So, the Los Angeles Kings were looking to overcome some Montreal Canaidens-related demons; namely, the fact that the Kings just don't win in Montreal. They responded by overcoming literally everything that had given them any sort of issue in recent memory, with a resounding 6-0 victory. It was fun!
(I have underlined all of these things for your reference.)
This game didn't look very promising to begin with, that's for sure. Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones have done a good job of making up for Jonathan Quick's injury over the past month, but Jones had a ton of work to do in the first, namely after a few silly penalties. With Drew Doughty off the ice after taking a hook, the Canadiens got SEVEN shots on the ensuing power play, most of them from close range. Conclusion: Drew Doughty is important. Jones, however, was superb, stopping everything with various pads and limbs. To say the least, it was an inauspicious start for the Kings, but one that got a lot better when Jordan Nolan scored on a big rebound seven minutes in. Doughty made up for his penalty by driving the puck into the zone, maneuvering to a good spot, and feeding an open Willie Mitchell. Mitchell's shot was tipped by Anze Kopitar and stopped by Carey Price, but he left a big rebound, and Nolan knocked it in.
A couple more silly penalties ensued, though after the first, they essentially stopped being stupid! But before racking up the goals, Justin Williams and Robyn Regehr forced the LA penalty kill to defend the Canadiens' excellent power play. They did so in much more comfortable fashion this time, but Martin Jones was called to action a few more times in the first. Final tally: 17 shots in the first period, no goals allowed. So we were ready to move to the second period clinging to that one-goal lead, but an extremely offensive decision by Darryl Sutter put LA up right at the end of the first. After an icing call, Sutter went with Kopitar, Mike Richards, and Jeff Carter up front, and it paid dividends. Richards won the draw, controlled the puck off to the goalie's right, and fed Kopitar for a one-timer from the middle. Price couldn't get across in time and Kopitar scored to make it 2-0.
Darryl Sutter apparently made it clear that the Kings were causing Martin Jones trouble with defensive breakdowns, and they tightened up quite a bit in the second. He also must have mentioned that the Kings were (for once) losing the possession battle, because they came out and blitzed the Habs in their own building. In the meantime, the team also got some help from the officials, making up somewhat for some bad refereeing memories in Montreal over the years. The third goal the Kings scored was a pretty clear case of goaltender interference, though Montreal didn't do themselves any favors by giving Alec Martinez room in front. Kyle Clifford backed into Price after Tyler Toffoli's initial shot, and Martinez put it home to end a long goalless streak! That was followed by Tyler Toffoli's fourth goal in four games, with Clifford causing slightly cleaner trouble in front this time. After 25 minutes, the Kings had a big lead, and Carey Price got the hook.
You thought things were going well? How about the Kings getting a POWER PLAY GOAL?! LA ended three weeks of power play woes with a Jake Muzzin goal. Jarret Stoll won the offensive-zone draw, got the puck back from Slava Voynov, and delivered a tape-to-tape cross-ice pass to Muzzin, who shot high past a flailing Peter Budaj. That was enough to seal the deal, but Justin Williams chimed in with a goal of his own near the end of the period, converting another great pass from Stoll on the backhand. The goal came after a net-front scramble, and Williams was actually one of two Kings who could have put the puck past Budaj on the play. 6-0 after two, and the third was just twenty minutes of hoping Jones could preserve the shutout.
Though the Kings kept things quiet for the most part and actually got a couple scoring chances on their last PK, Jones made some solid saves in the third as well. The Canadiens, to their credit, were pretty fired up in the third and won the final hits and shots battles, but it made no difference to the final score. It ended a long winless streak in Montreal (1999) and an even longer time without a shutout against Montreal (forever, actually). It also was a nice one-night victory for Doughty, as a ton of people tried to frame today's game as a Drew Doughty vs P.K. Subban duel. So, in conclusion, that went well, and hopefully what we saw in the second period sticks around for a while.
(Oh, and can we shoot 22% in every game, please?)