Recap: Kings Edge Penguins
The Kings take seven penalties but kill off every single one as they outlast Pittsburgh 3-2.
This was a highly anticipated matchup, and for good reason - Pittsburgh fans would finally get a chance to see a truly world-class first line center as Anze Kopitar visited Console Energy Center. As it turned out, it was a pretty successful visit.
The first period was tightly played, i.e. boring. Don't you hate it when teams slow the game down and limit scoring chances for both sides? For shame, Pittsburgh. Anyway, the Penguins probably had the best chance of the first 14 minutes when Martin Jones turned the puck over behind the net, but it (the puck, not the net) skittered between Lee Stempniak's legs and out of danger. The Kings generated little at even strength, but cashed in on a Matt Niskanen interference penalty. Marian Gaborik flung a wrist shot at the net, and as per usual Jeff Carter's tip was perfect.
@LAKings had this to tweet after the first five minutes of the second period, so yeah, that one got off to a slow start too. But then Jordan Nolan drew a penalty, Jarret Stoll fed the puck to Alec Martinez, and a hot shot blew past Zatkoff. Unfortunately, Martinez can't be on the ice all the time, and the Penguins were able to exploit his absence on the next shift when Kunitz crashed the net and chipped one past Jones. More hockey things happened as a Zatkoff poke check foiled a Mike Richards breakaway, and Kopitar hit a post from the slot after a Martinez shot created some chaos.
Martinez then took another penalty, LA's fourth, but as previously the Kings were superlative on the kill. Less than superlative was Martin Jones, who promptly allowed a terrible goal to Taylor Pyatt after the penalty expired. Whoops. After that the Kings escaped from yet another penalty kill, this time needing Jones to bail them out. A fairly even second period closed on a horrifying note as Marcel Goc's ankle got twisted up in a collision with the boards. It was gross. Feel better Mr. Goc.
The Kings began the third period with one more skater on the ice than the Penguins. The unfairness of this situation was quickly rectified when the referees caught Drew Doughty tripping. The Kings have one of the worst penalty differentials in the league. Obviously taking a lot of penalties hurts every team, but even equally exchanging lots of penalties and power plays hurts the Kings. The special teams excelled in this particular game, but over the long run the Kings will win the most games by keeping things 5-on-5 as much as possible. Irrefutably proving my point, shortly after the game returned to evens Doughty smacked the game winning goal past Zatkoff.
Muzzin took the Kings' 7th penalty of the game with 11 minutes left in the third. Brandon Sutter scored a goal - only he did so by pushing Jones' pad out of the way with his stick, calling into serious question the validity of said goal. But unfortunately for the Kings, because goaltender interference is not reviewa - HOLY SHIT THEY OVERTURNED IT. Just an amazing job by the referee, who started his explanation with "the puck was in before the net went off." The crowd went wild... and then the referee finished his statement. It was awesome. Go watch it. (I have no idea how this fits in with the NHL's policy of not reviewing goaltender interference. I would argue that this correct call is a reason why they should.)
The Penguins got close once or twice over the last 10 minutes but never managed to tie the game. A solid effort by the Kings got rewarded with a regulation victory. The Kings played mostly well, holding a slight advantage in shots and chances at even strength. They took an absurd number of penalties, but the penalty killers did a simply fantastic job of shutting down a very good power play. Right now, the Kings are in fine form.