Game 18: Kings Win 2-1, improve to 10-6-2
LOS ANGELES – Despite winning Los Angeles’ last two outings, the Kings decided not to go with Jonathan Quick but instead start Jonathan Bernier who last played (and won) last week in Calgary. The move proved to be a smart one as the defending champs played host to the Detroit Red Wings.
Unfortunately for the home team, it was a former King who got things started for Detroit. 9:42 into the opening frame, defenseman Kyle Quincey took a point shot that took a funny bounce and into the net completely fooling Bernier on the play. While the Wings did open the scoring, they were frustrated early as the netminder made a number of key saves before allowing the bizarre tally. In fact, Bernier made 12 saves in the first keeping the road team only up by a goal.
After being outshot 13 to 5 in the first, the Kings turned the momentum to their side, outshooting the Wings 13-7 in the second. Unfortunately for them, Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard was up to the task as the score remained 1-0 after 40 minutes.
The third period got a bit more exciting as the Detroit made 13 shots next to Los Angeles’ 11. Despite not being able to score for much of the game, the Kings kept pressing and just past the halfway-point of the third, those efforts paid off as Mike Richards took a point shot where it was met in front by none other than Jeff Carter who tipped in his team-leading 11th tally to tie the game.
But the Kings weren’t done there. Still pressing and with just under five minutes to go in regulation, Dwight King found an inexplicably wide-open Anze Kopitar in front who made a move usually found in a shootout deking out Howard and stuffing the backhand past the netminder to give the Kings their first lead of the night – and at the most opportune time at that.
Even when they got ahead, the Kings simply were not content to sit on their lead. Like they had most of the game, Los Angeles kept pressing and while they weren’t able to pick up any insurance, Jonathan Bernier made sure the home team would not relinquish their lead as he made 13 saves in the third to guide Los Angeles to their season-high fifth-straight wins.
When he last played exactly one week ago in Calgary, Jonathan Bernier stopped 26 of 27 shots to give his team the win. This time, Bernier was one better as he stopped 32 of 33 shots and unlike last week, the Kings were behind for much of the game. So, while Jonathan Quick has turned his game around, the same can also be said for Mr. Bernier.
In addition to his game-winner, Anze Kopitar also picked up an assist and Trevor Lewis also picked up a helper on Kopi’s late goal.
Since losing that heartbreaker in Detroit back on the 10th of this month, the Los Angeles Kings have roared back winning seven of their next eight outings and closing out the month of February on a very high note going 8-4-0 in the shortest month of the calendar year.
The Kings now have a couple of days to regroup as they head to Vancouver where they will appear on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday night to take on the Canucks in what will surely be a very entertaining matchup.