The Los Angeles Kings went into Glendale looking for their first win this season against the Arizona Coyotes. An early injury took Jeff Carter out of the game and the Kings lazed their way into a one goal deficit going into the third period. A bevy of power plays in the third changed the complexion of the game for both sides.
Let’s get the sad news out of the way. Jeff Carter was injured on his first shift of the game and nearly immediately went down the tunnel. What’s worse is that he returned to LA rather than continuing on the road trip. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for the best, but it’s not easy to imagine a routinely-tough winter stretch without your number one scorer.
After the Carter injury, the Kings proceeded to play two pretty forgettable periods. Milan Lucic took a retaliation cross-checking penalty for the second game in a row after a legal neutral zone hit. He added to his tally with a high-sticking penalty later in the game. It’s fair to say he’s been rather underwhelming back on the first line.
On the bright side, the line featuring Nick Shore, Dustin Brown, and Trevor Lewis was probably the best yet again. They seemed to be the only line able to consistently establish zone time and racked up a third of LA’s scoring chances with two a piece.
The Kings were able to score three unanswered goals in the third to seize a 3-1 lead. Two of them were even power play goals! The third line were rewarded on their power play time after Nick Shore made a nifty pass to the captain, and we can actually praise Brown’s shot on this one too!
By Brown’s third goal, the Kings had wrested full control of the period and looked well on their way to a regulation win. Arizona had just taken it’s third consecutive penalty when things went awry. On the ensuing power play, a contested puck sat just inside the blueline. Both Jake Muzzin and Boyd Gordon made a play for puck, but as Gordon attempted to go down on one knee to bat the puck with a hand, Muzzin’s posterior slid into him in an attempt to shield the puck with his body.
— Stephanie (@myregularface) December 27, 2015
It was an unfortunate play that Muzzin calls unintentional and Sutter says shouldn’t have even been a penalty. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine intent to injure on a clear play for a loose puck, but the Kings found themselves saddled with a five minute major to kill (and a match penalty to Muzzin). To compound matters, Alec Martinez flung a puck over the glass as he attempted to play it out of the zone while falling down.
The man advantages allowed the Coyotes to score two goals within thirty seconds and still play most of the remaining part of the third on the man advantage. It turned a third that the Kings had solidly controlled right back into a tossup as the teams headed into overtime.
As a result of the game and man deficiencies, both Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty looked to be headed for season-high ice times headed into overtime. Naturally, they both started, along with Tyler Toffoli in Jeff Carter’s usual spot. Fortunately, the Coyotes would never touch the puck again. Remember how I said Anze Kopitar started the overtime? Well, you know how this ends.
Kopitar’s speed, power and finesse make him a formidable player in three on three overtime. Those are the words you expect in a luxury car commercial. The kind of luxury car you spend a lot of money on and a good eight years enjoying, I’d venture.