Game 6; 3-3-0
A little over a week ago, the proverbial sky was falling in the City of Angels. Now, things aren’t as dire as the Los Angeles Kings — who started the season at 0-3-0 — have now reeled off their third-straight victory to return to .500 in a dominant effort in San Jose, beating the Sharks in their first road game of the campaign.
Earlier in the day, many fans of the silver-and-black were confused — some even irate — that head coach Darryl Sutter would not be going with Jonathan Quick against the high-flying Sharks but with Jhonas Enroth, who has yet to play a minute in goal this regular season. Instead, Jonathan Quick would suit up in goal on Friday night when the Kings returned home to host the Carolina Hurricanes.
But if Sutter made enemies with his decision to start Enroth on Thursday, he quickly turned them into friends as the diminutive netminder was nothing short of stellar, making 39 saves en route to quieting the Shark Tank‘s tired chants of “Beat LA” for the win.
While he had plenty of help from his defensive unit — which looked exponentially better than they did the last time these two clubs met — Enroth left the Sharks attack scratching their heads. Aside from a Joel Ward goal that he had no chance on, the 27-year-old backstop proved Sutter right for having faith in him to start such a crucial contest.
Los Angeles’s success on this night, however, was not limited to Jhonas Enroth’s mastery between the pipes.
The Kings opened the scoring on a funny-looking play as Tyler Toffoli stuffed his fourth past Martin Jones from an awkward angle. The goal, scored at 11:07 of the first was assisted by Alec Martinez and Jeff Carter. For Carter, the helper would be his first of four points on the night. But the Kings were not finished there.
On the power play in the final minute of the frame, Milan Lucic tipped home a Christian Ehrhoff wrister for his first as a King to give the road side a 2-0 lead with just 28 seconds remaining.
Despite being outshot 18-8, the Kings had a 2-0 lead entering the intermission.
After assisting on both opening-period goals, Jeff Carter decided to add a goal to his point total, sniping a wrister past Martin Jones — at 3:46 of the second — to give the silver-and-black a 3-0 lead, quieting the SAP Center.
The home side, however, was able to get on the board, finally solving Enroth on their 25th shot. Joel Ward was left alone in front of the net where he made no mistake, beating an out-of-position netminder to pull San Jose to within two. But despite outshooting the Kings all night long, that was as close as the Sharks could come.
While the third period didn’t see as much excitement as the first two frames, the Kings did add another tally to their total.
Just under the halfway point of the period, Jeff Carter sniped a shot off the back boards that took a funny bounce off of Martin Jones’ pad and into the net. It was 4-1 Los Angeles and that is how this one ended.
What a difference a couple of weeks make.
During their season-opener on Oct. 7, the Kings simply did not show up. Ex-King Martin Jones was solid in goal that night in front of his old fans at STAPLES Center, but not on this night. It was Los Angeles’s netminder who stole the show, and his name wasn’t Quick.
For a team who started the year with a dismal 0-for-6 mark on the power play, the Kings have turned their luck around when up a man. On Thursday, the silver-and-black emphasized the “advantage” in man-advantage, going 2-for-4 en route to their victory. Meanwhile, on the other side of their special teams unit, the Kings killed each and every one of their five penalties, leaving the Sharks and their fans frustrated.
Defenseman Jamie McBain made his season debut on Thursday as he filled in for an under-the-weather Derek Forbort. McBain finished the night with 12:58 of ice time and a blocked shot. In the hits department, Jake Muzzin led the way with five while Trevor Lewis led the silver-and-black in shots with five and blocked shots with three. Dustin Brown and Tanner Pearson were also effective, each collecting four shots.
Jordan Nolan reached a milestone on this night, playing in his 200th-career NHL game. The big man celebrated with three hits while logging 7:46 of ice time.
While Drew Doughty led his team in ice time as per usual, his total of 24:41 was a decrease from his usual totals which shows that the 25-year-old blueliner has been getting more relief this season, and it’s paying off as Los Angeles’s defensive corps is simply looking better each game.
It was a big win on Thursday — especially for Jhonas Enroth — but there is no time to celebrate as the Kings head right back home for a Friday-night tilt against the aforementioned Carolina Hurricanes.
We will see just how the Kings fare in their first tail-end of a back-to-back this season.