Oilers @ Kings Recap: ANOTHER Shutout for Jones, Kings Bounce Back
I feel like I'm writing the same thing over and over. Jones is perfect, the first line does good things, Doughty for Norris, Kings win, etc. (Not that that's a bad thing.)
So, Martin Jones did it again. Sure, the Los Angeles Kings' offense backed him up with 40 shots and a few goals, but for 55 minutes, this game was in doubt, and Jones came up big. Like three Canadian teams before them, the Edmonton Oilers deserved better, but we're not arguing with the result: a 3-0 shutout.
After laying an egg in the first period against Chicago, LA was back to their old ways last night in the opening frame. The Kings have had plenty of periods where they outshot the opponent or held the offensive zone for long stretches, but this was one of those periods where it was abundantly clear which team was the better one. (A fact not missed by some.) The entire team returned to form in a lot of ways, perhaps no one more than the first line of Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, and Dwight King. So it was only fair that they got the first goal, though much of the credit has to go to Drew Doughty. Doughty had already set up a couple scoring chances in the first 15 minutes, and after getting to the puck along the boards, he wheeled around, carried through the Oilers defense into the slot, and fed back across to Dwight King. King showed plenty of patience, while the Oilers showed no urgency and left him alone right next to Ilya Bryzgalov. One stickhandle, one quick tuck under the pads, and the Kings were up 1-0.
Bryzgalov was pretty solid during the rest of the period, especially with rubber flying through the crease constantly. There were plenty of of near misses to go along with the Kings' shots on goal, while Edmonton only tested Jones a few times at the other end. The second period, however, was a showcase for the rookie goaltender. It started just seconds in, with Ryan Smyth showing a burst of speed (or, at least, whatever passes for a burst of speed) from the corner to get to the front all alone. Smyth appeared to have waited out Jones and got around him to try and stuff the puck in, but Jones stuck out the pad to the goalpost and blocked two attempts. Soon after, Jones also stopped Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and he and Alec Martinez combined to foil an Ales Hemsky wraparound attempt. Meanwhile, Ben Scrivens was stuck watching the action, invisible.
After then proceeding to stop Nail Yakupov and Taylor Hall alone in front, Jones and the Kings were successfully through two periods. Despite outshooting the Oilers in the second, Edmonton had gotten the brunt of the scoring chances, and the Kings needed a considerable improvement in the third period. Thankfully, they got one, as the Oilers took just five shots in the last twenty minutes. Meanwhile, the first line continued buzzing for another goal and nearly found it a couple times. But the insurance would come courtesy of Jordan Nolan. With just under five minutes left, the Oilers got the puck out of their zone, but as they started a line change, Matt Greene ended up with the puck on his stick and flipped it in. Was he banking on Jordan Nolan being perfectly positioned to grab the puck and go five-hole on Bryzgalov? Probably not, but that's what happened.
Jones and the Kings held the fort during one final Oilers power play in the final minutes. Oh, the Oilers pulled their goalie for a 6-on-4 advantage? No sweat. Ales Hemsky's rebound attempt from the side was neatly contained, Jarret Stoll blocked Edmonton's last shot attempt, and as Stoll cleared, Dustin Brown stepped out of the penalty box to grab the puck. All Brown had to do was skate up the ice casually and slide the puck in for his 400th career NHL point, sealing a 3-0 win. The Kings had limited their turnovers and gotten superb performances from the first line, the top defenseman, and the goalie. That usually works out pretty well.