The Los Angeles Kings welcomed the Ottawa Senators into town last night as they faced off for the first and only time this season. Most of you probably forgot the Senators were even a team last season, but they have surprised everyone and proven that this year, they are a real contender for the cup. They are in fifth place in the Eastern Conference and prior to last night, had not lost two consecutive games since November 9th and 11th. Well, the Kings were happy to break that streak. The game kicked off with a fight from Kyle Clifford and Zenon Konopka just three minutes into the first period, pumping up both teams and starting the game off on the right foot. Willie Mitchell was the first on the board after he took a shot that went flying past Sens goalie Craig Anderson, assisted by Kyle Clifford and Colin Fraser. That was the only goal of the first period, but the second period proved to be very different.
Just over halfway through the second period, Drew Doughty and Colin Fraser sent the puck towards the net, and Kyle Clifford came in and buried it past Anderson. Gordie Howe Hatrick for Cliffy just halfway through the game. The improvement in Kyle Clifford’s game I directly attribute to the coaching of Darryl Sutter. He has given Clifford’s line a significant increase in ice time and boosted their confidence to a level that has them playing hockey better than they ever have. This line has been extremely effective for the Kings, giving them offensive depth, a term that I thought would never be mentioned in the same sentence as this team. Later in the period, the Kings had a 5-on-3 power play opportunity thanks to a hooking penalty on Bobby Butler followed by a tripping call on Zack Smith. We know how this one goes, Williams to Doughty, Doughty makes a sick move to get the puck to J.J., and he buries it for his 8th of the year. #JMFJ. I can’t explain how pleased I am with Jack Johnson’s goal scoring. Move over Doughty, we’ve got a potential Norris contender in J.J., that is if he can stay consistent in the d-zone. Also, Williams now has 8 points in 8 games.
Just when things couldn’t get any better, the Kings were awarded a penalty shot after the ref thought the puck was covered by the glove of one of the Senator’s in the goal crease. In actuality, it wasn’t covered, but I’ll take a penalty shot regardless! Trevor Lewis, the Kings new go-to penalty shooter, made a move that was almost identical to the one that earned him this privilege in the first place (see his first goal of the season). Take a look at the replay:
At about 8 minutes through the third period, Kyle Clifford was sent the box for a high stick that ended up costing Jonathan Quick the shutout. Daniel Alfredsson scored for the Sens on the power play, assisted by Erik Karlsson and Sergei Gonchar. Unfortunately for the Sens, it wouldn’t be enough to change the outcome. The Kings played 60 minutes of solid hockey and secured a place at the top of the division going into the All-Star break. The Kings are now tied with San Jose at 58 points, though the Sharks are 4 games behind. Not to worry though, because if the Kings continue to play at this level, they will pass the Sharks in no time. I’m ready for a playoff rematch of last season. I think the Kings could take on any team in the league right now, just saying.
What do you think? If the playoffs started right now, who would you pick to win the series?
Topics: Bobby Butler, Colin Fraser, Craig Anderson, Daniel Alfredsson, Darryl Sutter, Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson, Jack Johnson, Jonathan Quick, Justin Williams, Kyle Clifford, Los Angeles Kings, Ottawa Senators, Sergei Gonchar, Trevor Lewis, Willie Mitchell, Zack Smith, Zenon Konopka