To those who called the Kings’ 4-1 victory over the Canucks on New Years Eve a fluke, this post is for you. In the third matchup of the season between the two teams, the Kings stopped by Rogers Arena to set the record straight. They came out fired up and ready to take on the 2011 Western Conference Champs, as showcased by their early domination in shots on goal. Roberto Luongo was the story early on, coming up big and shutting down a promising 2-on-1 opportunity for Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, as well as a powerful shot from Dustin Penner. Almost halfway through the first period however, Drew Doughty took a shot from the blue line and Dustin Penner was right in front to tip it in past Luongo and put the Kings up 1-0. It’s just so fitting that Penner gets the goal (his first in 19 games), with all of the media attention surrounding #pancakegate and his letter to the fans. He is slowly but surely making his way up the ranks in terms of “favorite Kings players,” quite a contrast to the fans’ opinions of him when the season began. I’ve got to give it up to guy, he’s not only stepping up his game tenfold, but apparently he’s a comedian.
When the second period began, Willie Mitchell was sent to the box for tripping, putting the Canucks on the power play. This never turns out well for any team, as the Canucks are # 1 on the PP in the league. Inevitably, one of the Sedin Sisters (shout out to Jon, I stole that brilliance from you) was able to get the puck past Quick and tie the game. I would go back and check which one it was, but quite frankly, I don’t care. And if you are reading this blog as a Kings fan, my hope and assumption is that you don’t care either. Fortunately, Jonathan Quick and the Kings’ defense were solid enough to not let them take the lead, but I can’t say the same for the Canucks. With the 2nd period winding down, Maxim Lapierre was sent to the box for cross checking, making way for Justin Williams to net a PP goal off a drive from Willie Mitchell. Still think NYE was a fluke?
The only goal of the third period was scored by the Canucks’ David Booth just five minutes in. Both teams battled hard and it looked to be anyone’s game. Eventually, the 2-2 game was sent into overtime, where the Kings absolutely dominated. I had a bad feeling that this was going to turn out to be one of those games where the Kings really outplayed the other team, but lost because of one stupid mistake. I’m thrilled to say that was not the case. While no team scored in overtime, the Kings had all of the momentum going into the shootout. As of late, the shootout has been an area of struggle for the Kings, so naturally Darryl Sutter had to make a change from the typical three shooters: Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Jarret Stoll. Instead, he went with the hot hand in Justin Williams (who played an all-around terrific game – 1 goal and 7 shots), Jack Johnson (who has also been hot offensively), and Mike Richards (who really doesn’t need these parentheses because his skills speak for themselves).
In the shootout, Alex Burrows was the only one to score on Jonathan Quick, while Justin Williams and Mike Richards (with the game winner) scored on Luongo to get the two points for the Kings. I can only imagine the reaction in the building from Canucks fans, and I would have loved NOTHING more than to be there to rub it in all of their smug faces. The Kings got 5 out of a possible 6 points on the road trip and still have only one regulation loss under Darryl Sutter. I love the direction this is going for the Kings. They are proving that they are a real team to be feared right now in the West. They may not be at the top of the standings, but they are pretty damn close and certainly making their way up. Next game is on Thursday at home against the Calgary Flames, round 2 of the Sutter Brothers matchup. Let’s hope it goes as well as the last one.
Opinions, people. So what do you think???