Kings @ Senators Recap: Top-Heavy Ottawa Punishes LA
Ottawa's offense is unbalanced, but I'll take an unbalanced five goals any day.
The Los Angeles Kings aren't used to giving up five goals in a game. They DEFINITELY aren't used to a bunch of guys having big nights against them. On Monday, though, the Ottawa Senators' "top six" went to town in a 5-3 regulation win.
The Senators are... shall we say... built differently from the Kings. Ottawa has only seven players with ten or more points, which is pretty unimpressive considering the team is second in the NHL in scoring. By comparison, the Kings (who have scored 19 fewer goals) have nine double-digit guys. Of the Senators' seven, though, five had above 20 points, and a sixth crossed the barrier in this one. Those top six (one of whom is, of course, a defenseman) all contributed tonight, combining for 11 points. Let's run them down.
- Erik Karlsson (34 points) notched an odd goal to put the Sens up 3-0, breaking his stick but getting a friendly bounce from Brayden McNabb's skate. More impressive was the setup on the Sens' second, when he jumped into the zone and delivered a perfect feed to the high slot.
- Mike Hoffman (31 points) scored the team's first, his 12th goal in 14 games, on a one-timer in the slot after escaping McNabb in the corner, then made it 13 to give Ottawa a commanding three-goal lead.
- Bobby Ryan (29 points) drove to the net in the middle of the third, two minutes after LA had drawn within one, and got the puck in position for a backbreaking fifth goal.
- Mark Stone (28 points) gave the puck to Karlsson before his aforementioned nice setup. Usually, giving Karlsson the puck is smart.
- Kyle Turris (25 points) was the real beneficiary of that Karlsson feed, one-timing the puck up high past Jonathan Quick. Basically unstoppable.
- Finally, Mika Zibanejad (20 points) earned assists on two of the four second-period goals, then poked the fifth goal in when Quick failed to cover up Ryan's entry.
The Kings couldn't keep up on the scoreboard, as their possession failed to manifest itself in goals during periods 1 and 2. Sure, Jamie McBain's first-period blast was a beauty, as he took a feed from Jeff Carter, ignored Tyler Toffoli on a 2-on-1 and beat Anderson cleanly to the far side. And Jake Muzzin continued the D's prolific goal scoring to draw the Kings within one. But when your only goal by a forward requires a power play and a terrific carom off the boards...
Bounce house pic.twitter.com/5pwRFudx2V— LA Kings (@LAKings) December 15, 2015
... you might have some trouble. Upside: that broke Tyler Toffoli's goalless skid; if LA continues hiccuping, they'll need Toffoli to chip in.
Otherwise, though, it was an ugly night, and given the struggles of McNabb, Drew Doughty (who played one of his worst games of the season despite getting another 30 minutes of time), and Christian Ehrhoff, LA's ballyhooed seven-defenseman lineup didn't cover themselves in glory. The seventh defenseman, Derek Forbort, only got six total shifts. While Sutter's explanation that he wanted to give Kopitar and [inaudible] more ice time is perfectly reasonable with two off days coming up, he would've loved to see his blueliners play better in their own end. For the record, Kopitar, Carter, and Toffoli each cleared 21 minutes of TOI.
In the words of assistant coach Davis Payne, the Kings will need to be "firmer" when they return to the ice on Thursday in Montreal. Given that this was only the second time all year LA has conceded four or more goals, I like the chances of that.