Kings @ Red Wings Recap: Detroit Coasts After Four-Goal First
The Kings get another Toffoli shorthanded goal and, finally, a defenseman goal... after basically removing themselves from the game in the first.
That game went poorly. On the second night of a back-to-back a Los Angeles Kings loss wasn't unexpected, but the comprehensive fashion in which the Detroit Red Wings picked them apart in the first period was unexpected. And ugly. Don't forget ugly.
Let's start with the end of Thursday's recap:
It'll be tough to go into Detroit and win after this one, but Jonathan Quick will be well-rested, and maybe some of today's less-used Kings (King, Richards, McNabb, and Pearson come to mind) can provide some jump tomorrow.
We were right about the tough part. And some of the Kings who were supposed to provide some jump, well, didn't. Dwight King, for example, lost the puck to Pavel Datsyuk, who proceeded to bank it in off of an otherwise good Jake Muzzin. That was a demoralizing unassisted goal which made the game 2-0 within the first ten minutes. Mike Richards? He took penalties in each of the first two periods, with his first one setting up Gustav Nyquist's second power play goal of the first period. If you're good at math, you've realized that means Detroit scored at least three goals in the period, with Nyquist also beating Jonathan Quick after a gorgeous set of passes from Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg. It got worse, though, as LA couldn't get out of the period without allowing a fourth to Tomas Tatar.
With the Kings having been outclassed, Detroit finally eased off the gas pedal a little bit, and maybe that's how Alec Martinez was able to FINALLY score the first goal by a Kings defenseman this season. He navigated his way through the neutral zone without the puck and caught up just across the blueline. From there, he carried it to the front, forced a save out of Jimmy Howard, wheeled around to the other side, and backhanded in the rebound, all while being hounded by the speedy Nyquist. That was all that came out of an otherwise frustrating second period, as Detroit maintained their 4-1 advantage into the third.
Penalties continue to be a problem for the Kings, and Jarret Stoll's faceoff violation promised to make an uphill climb even tougher. However, Tyler Toffoli scored his third shorthanded goal of the season (in only eleven games!) to make things interesting. Toffoli had been stonewalled by a terrific Howard save at the end of the second, so maybe he was more motivated to make a difference on the PK. When Dwight King's shot was stopped by Howard, he opted not to freeze the puck, but Toffoli swooped in to grab it, and when Robyn Regehr's subsequent shot forced a rebound, Toffoli was there.
Dustin Brown nearly made things very, very interesting on that same penalty kill, but after being brought down from behind on a breakaway, his penalty shot attempt was denied by Howard. It put a damper on an otherwise good showing from Brown, though as with last season, the lack of production is starting to become worrisome. LA wouldn't have any better opportunities in the final fifteen minutes, as they did nothing after a potentially suspendable hit by Jordan Nolan on Darren Helm. Datsyuk's empty netter finally killed any small bits of hope that the Kings might salvage something on Halloween. Detroit needed the empty netter to score, with a determined Quick preventing them from extending that lead numerous times before that. (Those four goals weren't on him, either.)
It feels like Anze Kopitar is going to be back soon. Whenever that "soon" is won't be a moment too soon.