Game 4; 1-3-0
LOS ANGELES — After an underwhelming opening three games, the Los Angeles Kings were in tough on Friday night as they played host to an unbeaten Minnesota Wild squad. Cynics may have prematurely chalked this up to another loss for the silver-and-black, but the home team fought hard, sending the STAPLES Center faithful home happy with a 2-1 overtime win.
Despite a scoreless opening frame, the Kings started out with a strong effort — something that had not been seen thus far. The Kings outshot the Wild 16-5 and while Wild netminder Darcy Kuemper saw everything in his path, fans knew it was only a matter of time before the home team broke through — and they did.
Just 1:13 into the second, the Kings ended their scoring and their powerplay jinx simultaneously as an attacking home team opened the scoring with Milan Lucic feeding a wide-open Tyler Toffoli in front who made no mistake, cashing in on the glove side of Kuemper. Jeff Carter picked up the second assist.
The Kings would register 16 more shots in the second — next to Minnesota’s nine — but entered the third with just the one-goal lead. That was fortunate for the Wild as they were able to tie on a power-play marker of their own.
Pressing on the man-advantage, the Wild finished off the play off the tape of captain Mikko Koivu who tied it with his second of the campaign — from Zach Parise and Ryan Suter — to knot things up. The Wild would outshoot the Kings 10-4 in the frame but netminder Jonathan Quick and his defensive corps held tight as the Wild were unable to take the lead.
The Kings and Wild entered overtime and just 2:19 into the extra frame, it was Anze Kopitar who ended things, sniping a shot off a pass from Tanner Pearson to win it for the silver-and-black. The play came off a turnover in the Minnesota zone as Pearson kept the play alive by just staying onside. The effort paid off as Los Angeles picked up their first win of the season — a much-needed boost to enter the weekend.
On this night, the goaltenders stole the show. Darcy Kuemper — in just his third start in 2015 — made 35 saves in a losing effort while Jonathan Quick — while not quite as busy — was nonetheless solid, making 25 saves en route to his team’s victory.
Drew Doughty, who led the way with 27:28 of total ice time for the Kings, also led them in shots with five. In the hits department, four Kings led the way with three apiece: Brayden McNabb, Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis and Jeff Carter. As for the newest King, defenseman Derek Forbort made his long-awaited debut for the club, logging 11:33 of total ice time recording one shot and one blocked shot while taking a tripping penalty in the second.
This win was a great pick-me-up for a Los Angeles Kings club who had played under par for the opening three games, but their effort on Friday has shown that they are ready for this season. It also helps that they defeated an undefeated club. The Kings will now hope to capitalize on Friday’s victory as they close out their homestand on Sunday night against the up-and-coming Colorado Avalanche.