Los Angeles Kings @ Florida Panthers, Game #54 Recap: Fourth Line, Out of Fourth Place
Trevor Lewis goes down, but the Kings win again to move to second in the Pacific.
It’s a short one today with the Los Angeles Kings headed right back out on the ice, but thankfully this recap can be neatly packaged into some primary storylines. The Kings were powered to victory last year in Sunrise behind Jeff Carter, Brayden McNabb, and Peter Budaj, so they needed some different folks to step up against the Panthers this year. A few of them obliged.
Let’s start with Jonathan Quick. Darcy Kuemper has been torrid in his starts this season, and though Quick is still not worrying about his starting spot, a good showing would have been reassuring. He was not good... he was great. Aaron Ekblad converted a bounce off the boards on the power play for the game’s first goal, but aside from that bit of misfortune, Quick looked terrific. A couple of great pad/toe/skate saves ensured the Kings were within striking distance, and he was nails as the game wound down.
So LA needed only one goal, and they got three. One was from Anze Kopitar, naturally, but his was mere insurance after the fourth line picked up two goals in the second period. The second one was the kind of goal you might expect from a fourth line, as Jonny Brodzinski threw a backhand on net and it caught a deflection from a Panther on the way in. With the designated sniper getting a lucky goal, Andy Andreoff and Nick Shore were left to try and earn a skillful goal, and boy, they delivered.
The backhand pass! The fake! The finish! It was exhilirating, and it set the stage for LA to exert their will. Given that Kopitar, Alex Iafallo, and Tyler Toffoli carried the early play while Andy Andreoff fought, it was a pleasant surprise to see both the top and bottom guys chipping in.
A strong defensive showing in the third sealed the deal, but it wasn’t without stress. Trevor Lewis went hard into the boards in the final five minutes, and though John Stevens nonchalantly mentioned that he would be fine, he almost certainly will need Saturday off, if not more. In the end, it clouded a 3-1 win, but moving up to second on the division is a nice consolation.