Kings @ Jets Recap : Exciting 'Til The End
The Kings played perhaps their most exciting game of the year against the Winnipeg Jets. Their fate was not decided until the final minutes of the third.
The Kings entered Winnipeg to play their fourth game in six days, so it would have been understandable if they were tired. That's not the Kings team that took the ice though, as they played a high-paced back and forth game with the Jets until the closing minutes. They were disciplined in defensive coverage, passing, and for once, penalties. They started to take over the game in the third, and that ultimately made the difference in the game.
The Kings and Jets have a lot of similarities. They both rank among the heavier teams in the NHL, and dictating shot attempts is usually how they both find their way to victories. Winnipeg controlled the pace early in the first period with more of the shot attempts and the better quality chances, though LA battled back to make the period fairly even. LA took their first and only penalty with a minute left in the period as defenseman Christian Ehrhoff was whistled for hooking. What followed was a dangerous sequence of chances from a Jets powerplay that had been converting nearly a quarter of their man advantages. Fortunately, they entered the first intermission scoreless and just a shot apart on the scoreboard, with the Kings at 8 and the Jets at 9.
The Jets ultimately opened the scoring almost nine minutes into the second period when rookie rookie sensation Nikolaj Ehlers held onto the puck and fired it from the slot on a screened Quick. Jake Muzzin would answer for the Kings several minutes later after Pavelec was blinded by a textbook screen from Milan Lucic. With his goal, Muzzin netted the first for a Kings defenseman this season. He also finished the game with a team-high five shots, and made a fairly nifty passing play to boot. The Kings got a power play of their own just 30 seconds later, but forfeited several dangerous chances to Winnipeg, so they'd probably like to forget it.
The third period is where the Kings really took off. They had 14 shots in the period to Winnipeg's five. The go-ahead goal did not come easily though, as the Kings pulled ahead with only five minutes to go in the game. The play was created when Lucic seized a faceoff win from the Jets as they were slow to claim the puck. He tapped the puck to Toffoli, who slipped behind a cheating defenseman, and they were off to the races. Toffoli's defender ultimately caught him and took away the shot, but the kid with the hot hands was able to slide a cross-crease pass to the net crashing Lucic who may or may not have touched the puck as it went in. Either way, they both pick up points on the play and LA leads 2-1. The Kings ultimately sealed the deal with empty net goals from Toffoli and Trevor Lewis, ensuring the Kings will never score another empty net goal this season.
Kings motored ahead in 3rd: LAK 56-43 5v5 Corsi, LAK 19-18 Scoring chances, WPG 8-6 High-danger— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) October 28, 2015
The final score of 4-1 is definitely deceiving given how close most of the game was played, and the two teams essentially finished even in scoring chances though the Kings took the shot attempt lead solidly. After a dismal 0-3 season start, the Kings now sport a league-best six game winning streak. Even better, all those wins are of the regulation or overtime variety, which could be crucial in a tie-breaker for playoff positioning down the road. Quick's save percentage has seen a hefty rebound, as he now sits at a very respectable .928 on the season. Marian Gaborik is showing signs of life after being demoted to the third line, and the line anchored by Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli duo is running on all cylinders. Finally, the Kings also took the sole lead in the Pacific Division. Times are good.