Game 25; 17-8-1
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings have swept their homestand, winning all four games to extend their winning streak to four while increasing their point streak to six games. This coming after a hard-fought 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday night.
Since this was the tail-end of back-to-back games for the club, many thought the Kings would sit Jonathan Quick in favour of Jhonas Enroth. That was not the case, though, as head coach Darryl Sutter decided to stick with his number-one netminder — and the decision pay dividends as Quick was outstanding in one of his best performances of the season. But more on No. 32 later.
Unlike on Saturday, there was some scoring in the opening period on Sunday, and it was courtesy of the home side.
At the 12:24 mark of the first, Andy Andreoff‘s hard work as of late paid off as the youngster came rushing down the wing, slapping one that found its way past Andrei Vasilevski to open the scoring. It wasn’t immediately if the shot was a goal but it stood and Los Angeles had the 1-0 lead. Nick Shore and Drew Doughty helped out on the goal with the assists.
After just one goal in the opening period, the second frame got off to a wild opening 40 seconds.
Just 27 seconds into the period, one-time King Brian Boyle entered the offensive zone on his off-wing where he wristed a beautiful shot that flew right over the glove of Jonathan Quick to tie the game. But in what has become a popular trend for the Kings lately, they answered right back as just 12 seconds later, Brayden McNabb fired a point shot that beat Vasilevski stick-side to regain Los Angeles’s lead just like that. Anze Kopitar, who won the faceoff, broke his stick on the play and McNabb had to pivot his way past the stick before potting his first of the year home. Speaking of Kopitar, his assist was the 400th of his career.
Unfortunately for Vasilevski, it was the end of his night as he allowed two goals on 10 shots. Ben Bishop, whose injury on Saturday was not as scary as it looked, came on in relief. But just over three minutes later, the silver-and-black added some insurance.
At the 3:47 mark of the period, Jeff Carter came down the wing where he passed in front to a streaking Milan Lucic who got enough of his stick on the pass to score his 10th, beating Bishop for his third tally this weekend. Brayden McNabb helped out with the other assist.
That was all the scoring the Kings needed on this night but they were strong until the final buzzer.
Jonathan Quick was outstanding on this night, making 24 saves — some of which were undisputed goal-savers — earning Second Star of the Game honours. But as solid as Quick was, his defense was one better as they frustrated the Bolts attack all night long, not allowing a single goal on six penalty kills — one of which was a 5-on-3. The Kings could have definitely been more disciplined but they were bailed out when they had to be making the penalty-killing unit look that much better.
Physically, the silver-and-black were not shy on this night. Kyle Clifford led the way with five hits while Andy Andreoff and Dustin Brown each had four. Milan Lucic, Tanner Pearson and Jordan Nolan each had three hits while five different Kings registered two each.
There weren’t many blocked shots by the Kings on this night as Doughty, Kopitar and Alec Martinez each registered a pair.
From an overall standpoint, the Kings are firing on all cylinders right now. It may still be early in the season but they are looking a lot better now than they were this time last season. Marian Gaborik has looked more at ease on the ice since this road trip kicked off while Drew Doughty has extended his point to three games. Those are just two examples.
The Kings not only split their season series with the Bolts but they have now earned their 800th point under general manager Dean Lombardi.
As good as STAPLES Center has been to them recently, the Kings will not be back until Dec. 22. Until then, the silver-and-black will be back on the east coast for six games. Their road trip kicks off on Tuesday in Ohio’s capital where the Kings visit the Columbus Blue Jackets.