After being completely humiliated in their 8-2 loss to the Red Wings on Saturday, the Kings were able to shake it off and power through last night to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in their final game of the road trip. Justin Williams opened the scoring for the Kings after Drew Doughty fired a shot around the boards that happened to bounce right in front of Leafs goalie James Reimer, onto the stick of Williams, and into the net. Scoring the first goal was absolutely crucial for the Kings’ confidence going into the rest of the game, not to mention Williams reaaaally needed a goal. As history has shown, when they don’t score first, it’s usually a bad ending. Just three minutes later however, Jonathan Quick played the puck behind the net and sent it around the boards right onto the stick of Tyler Bozak who set it up for John Michael Liles to fire a slapshot that went flying into the net to tie it up at 1-1.
During the second period, the Kings came out strong and outshot the Leafs 16-4. With about 5 minutes remaining, the Kings appeared to have a little bit more luck on their side (finally)! Drew Doughty played a puck that came outside the blue line, but with no call from the referees, sent the puck up to Anze Kopitar. Kopi passed it up to Simon Gagne slightly right of the net, and he set up a beautiful pass for Dustin Brown to come in and bury it. Every one was so focused on Gagne, it was as if no one saw Brownie coming right up the middle. A great play, and a very much needed goal, putting the Kings up 2-1 a the end of the second. Interesting fact: The Kings are 68-0-4 when leading after 2 periods since April 2, 2009.
Just a few minutes into the third, the Leafs came back to tie it up again, thanks to the ridiculous passing skills of Mikhail Grabovski. He set up an absolutely perfect play for Matt Frattin to come in and take the shot on the open right side of the net. The play happened so quickly that Jonathan Quick just wasn’t able to get there in time. This goal eventually ended up earning the Leafs one point and sending the game to overtime, and then a shootout. Phil Kessel, Matt Frattin, and Joffrey Lupul were all denied by Jonathan Quick, but James Reimer wasn’t able to stop Dustin Brown from burying yet another puck into the back of the net and winning the game for his team. That’s exactly what they need from their Captain and he proved to be extremely clutch last night. It’s also worth noting that the Kings were able to keep Kessel and Lupul off the score sheet, two guys that already have upwards of 35 points on the season. Another
embarrassing interesting fact: Last night’s game marks the first game since November 22, where the Kings were able to score more than 2 goals (even though it wasn’t in regulation)
Since firing Terry Murray, the Kings are 2-2 and while the wins are always great, the losses still seem to stick out more. 3-0 to the Bruins and 8-2 to the Red Wings are pretty embarrassing numbers and the Kings still have a long way to go. No surprise here: Darryl Sutter will be formally introduced tomorrow as Kings new head coach, “the worst kept secret in the NHL” as the guys at NHL on the Fly put it last night. I’m not sure if this guy will be the one to make a difference considering he doesn’t have the most amazing history, but I am very hopeful that he will be able to solve the problem (as is GM Dean Lombardi if he wants to keep his job). Sutter will coach his first game when the Kings take on the Anaheim Ducks at Staples Center on Thursday in part 4 of the Freeway Faceoff (7pm start time). The Kings will have their first practice with Sutter tomorrow at 10:30am at the TSC and it seems like the players are ready for something new. In an interview with Kings insider Rich Hammond, here’s what Drew Doughty had to say about the coaching change.
DOUGHTY: “I don’t really know much about him. I heard he’s a bit of a yeller and I think that’s a good thing. We need someone that’s going to push us, to get the best out of us every night, and I think he’s going to be a great fit for our team. I’m really excited for him to come along whenever he gets here.’’
I’m sure most of the players share the same sentiment. It has been a rough week or so for the Kings, but there is a silver lining and hopefully they will start putting in 100% effort and trying to get wins not only for themselves, but for each other. See you all Thursday…Oh, and GO KINGS.
Watch the highlights from Kings vs. Leafs here.