Jonathan Quick and Los Angeles Kings took on Evgeni Malkin and the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are still without their concussed star Sidney Crosby, last night at Staples Center in front of another sellout crowd. Throughout the first period, we saw some brilliant penalty killing by the Kings, particularly Mike Richards. However, a power play goal by Steve Sullivan, with assists to Kris Latang and James Neal, gave the Penguins a 1-0 lead. Here is where we start having a problem. It’s hard not to point fingers at this point but… It looks like Dustin Penner is choosing to be the dominant number four hitter for the El Cid Lounge in a men’s softball league instead of a dominant top six forward in the NHL. It’s not clear where he fits in this league. He’s been with all possible combinations of players on the Kings roster but he still looks completely lost. Penner, you’ll remember, had the turnover that let to the Willie Mitchell penalty (one which Mitchell had to take or Malkin probably scores) that kicked off the “Parade of Kings” to the penalty box in the first period. Ethan Moreau and Rob Scuderi for slashing and delay of game, respectively, followed Mitchell.
At the start of second period, Latang just flat out punched Dustin Brown. It looked like he got tired of getting hit and just decided to take a swing! The Kings were rewarded with a power play and the Penguins sweetened the deal less than a minute later with Chris Kunitz going off for a too many men penalty. The result was 1:18 of 5 on 3 for the Kings. There were plenty of great chances with the 5 on 3, Richards beat Marc-Andre Fleury and hit the crossbar, but no goals. The Kings really started picking up the hitting toward the end of the second period. It’s too bad Penner couldn’t contribute in that department. That would have created potential for some real damage there!
Shots on goal at the end of two were 24-21 in favor of the Penguins. The Kings had a much better period in the second.
Mike Richards, on a shorthanded breakaway, had a great opportunity toward the middle of the third. Richards ended up getting hauled down, still got a great shot off, and was awarded a penalty shot. So, after not capitalizing on the penalty shot, we were still tied at 1-1 and the Penguins were still on the power play. The Kings penalty kill was huge on this night and would kill this one, the last of the evening.
A great pass from Williams to get Kopitar the puck who fed a beautiful pass to Simon Gagne, who scored his 4th goal of the year, put the Kings in front 2-1.
An apparent goal by Dustin Brown would have made it 3-1 in favor of the Kings but was immediately waived off. Brown’s stick was clearly above the crossbar. There wasn’t much question about it and really no argument from the Kings. The call went to Toronto for review nevertheless.
Kunitz and the Penguins tied the game at two on a gritty goal with 2:17 left in the third period. The inability by either team to produce a goal brought us to overtime and eventually a shootout. The Kings got a much needed point in the standings from a hard fought game against a great team.
The shootout went like this:
Jarret Stoll shoots first and hits Fleury in the glove. Not a typical Stoll shot or result. Malkin goes next and, again, not a very good chance. Quick easily stops the shot. Kopitar is next and scores, where else?, on the backhand five-hole. Latang goes next and also scores on the backhand. Quick made the first move and gave Latang control. Brown goes next and doesn’t really make a move. Shoots the puck right into Fleury’s pad. James Neal misses. Simon Gagne misses. Tried the leg-kick-fake but Fleury wasn’t buying it. Kunitz wins it for the Penguins. Goes five-hole on Quick with a nice move. He did essentially the same thing as Gagne but in triple-time.
How long do we suffer with mediocre coaching? I get it! Defense first… But, at some point, the system has to adapt to incorporate some offense. I think the final step is missing and will continue to go missing with Terry Murray’s current coaching philosophy. Dean Lombardi has built a world class team but it’s being run by Bakersfield class coaching. It has been well documented that the team was built from the net out. With two great goaltenders, a defensive corps that any team would kill to have and the middle of the ice packed with talent, there’s no way this team should go for extended periods without scoring a goal. Activate the defense, cycle the puck, catch up with the current NHL system! There’s a lot of fans out there with legitimate issues and I saw a lot of them last night on Twitter (even had to ‘Unfollow’ some because it was a bit overboard). The talent isn’t living up to expectations and it’s because the coach isn’t getting the most out of his players. At some point, the coaching staff is going to have to be held accountable.
See you Tuesday!
Tags: Alec Martinez Anze Kopitar Bakersfield Chris Kunitz Dean Lombardi Dustin Brown Dustin Penner El Cid Lounge Ethan Moreau Evgeni Malkin James Neal Jarret Stoll Justin Williams Kings Kris Latang LA Kings Los Angeles Kings Marc-Andre Fleury Matt Greene Mike Richards NHL Penguins Pittsburg Penguins Pittsburgh Penguins Rob Scuderi Sidney Crosby Simon Gagne Staples Center Steve Sullivan Terry Murray Toronto Twitter Willie Mitchell