The Los Angeles Kings took on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. After losing the past two games, the Los Angeles Kings really needed to win this game. The Kings have been desperate for goals and tonight their prayers were answered when they scored three goals to beat the Lightning 3-1.
I also expected Tampa Bay to come out strong tonight because they are still fighting for their spot in the playoffs. As of today, the Kings hold a playoff spot, but struggle with offense. Although the Lightning were also in need of a win tonight, there wasn’t too much animosity between the two teams because they hardly play each other. The last time that they met, the Kings won 2-1 in a shoot out on November 14, 2009. Two young players, 22-year-old Kings’ defense man Drew Doughty, and Lightning’s Steven Stamkos, who just turned 22 today, have had some history together. Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty went 1st and 2nd respectively back in the 2008 NHL draft.
The Kings offense has been a sore subject for us fans for some time now. Tonight’s game proved otherwise when at 2:47 in, Justin Williams took a shot from the blue line and Anze Kopitar was at the right place at the right time. Kopitar tipped it in past Tampa Bay’s goaltender Dwayne Roloson, giving the Los Angeles Kings an early 1-0 lead. Prior to tonight’s game, Tampa’s goalie Roloson had a record of 7-10-2 this season. The only real disappointment I found in the first period was that the broadcast announcers kept pronouncing Andrei Loktionov’s name wrong. Say it with me “Lok-ti-on-ov”.
The second period didn’t start out the way any Kings fan would want. About 8 minutes in, Birthday Boy Steven Stamkos scored his 35th goal of the season and his first goal against the Los Angeles Kings, tying up the game 1-1. I guess we’ll just chalk it up to a birthday present from the hockey gods or something. Stamkos got a lucky break and made it past the Kings defense after Rob Scuderi’s stick was broken. Steven Stamkos has now scored 154 goals in his NHL career. The assists were credited to Tampa Bay’s Teddy Purcell and Eric Brewer. Shortly after Stamkos’ goal, Kyle Clifford was sent to the penalty box for roughing after joining a scrap a little too late. The Lightning weren’t able to capitalize on the power play. After the 2:00 penalty, Kyle Clifford jumped out of the penalty box and scored an awesome goal on the breakaway thanks to a sweet pass from Rob Scuderi. This goal put the Kings back in the lead. Leaving no room for a quick comeback, Kings’ Dustin Penner gave the Kings a 2 goal lead over the Lightning. This goal was assisted by Mike Richards with his 13th assist this season and Jarret Stoll with his 10th assist. The 2nd period ended with the Kings having a 3-1 lead over the Lightning.
Although the third period held the most shots on goal for either team, neither were able to make it in the net. It would have been nice for one of the Kings 8 shots on goal to go in, but considering they had already scored 3, I shouldn’t be so greedy. The main thing is that our defense was their too and so was Jonathan Quick. Together, they helped stop all 11 shots on goal by the Lightning in the 3rd period, securing the Kings win (3-1). This win gave coach Darryl Sutter a record of 11-4-6, Quick is now 23-13-9, and the Kings are now 26-18-10. The Kings continue their road trip when they take on the Florida Panthers Thursday, January 9th at 4:30 pm (PT).
P.S. Happy Birthday to Kings enforcer Kevin Westgarth who is celebrating his 28th today!