Game 33: Kings Win 4-2, improve to 19-12-2
ST. LOUIS – The Los Angeles Kings were determined to pick up from where they left off last spring. They swept the St. Louis Blues in last year’s playoffs and they swept them again this regular season as they capped off their season series with the boys from the Gateway Citywith a 4-2 victory.
Despite a scoreless first period, both teams came out firing, especially Los Angeles who peppered Blues’ netminder Jaroslav Halak with 13 shots. While they weren’t able to score, the Kings weren’t fazed. Four-and-a-half minutes into the second, the Kings created a traffic jam in front of the St. Louis net when captain Dustin Brown banked the puck in for his 13th to open the scoring for the road team.
Just over the halfway point of the middle frame with the Kings shorthanded, the Blues were pressing and it was rookie Vladimir Tarasenko who picked up his own rebound and got it past Jonathan Quick, who had no chance on the play, to tie the game. But a common theme on this night was the Kings doing damage just when the Blues seemed to be gained momentum and less than two minutes later, Trevor Lewis was stopped in front but made a great effort to take a second shot that found its way through Halak and in the net. Just like that, Los Angeles had regained their lead.
The Kings’ effort certainly didn’t taper off in the middle as they fired 14 shots against Halak (27 in total after 40 minutes).
At the 6:44 mark of the third period, an Alex Pietrangelo point shot found its way through Jonathan Quick’s legs and Tarasenko was there to jump on the trickling puck to tap it in for his second of the night. The game was once again tied and remained that way until less than three minutes left in regulation.
In the final few minutes, Kings fans (at home and whoever was at the game) were treated to a wonderful effort by Mike Richards who despite being stopped in front, never gave up on the play as he used a strong individual effort to scoop the puck back in front and tip in his eighth past Halak to once again regain the Los Angeles lead. Since the net start to tip over to the front, however, the goal was under review but it stood.
To cap it off, while I don’t usually mention much about tallies of the empty net variety, the Kings definitely earned theirs as Dustin Brown and Justin Williams worked hard to get some insurance as Williams finished off by coming out from behind the net and scoring – but not before being leveled by a frustrated David Backes. A scrum ensued but cooler heads did prevail as the Kings improve to 2-0-0 on their current road trip as they pick up two crucial points to move into 5th in the West for the time being.
After generating 40 shots, the Los Angeles Kings ought to look back on this game and feel proud. Captain Dustin Brown alluded to this earlier but he mentioned how pretty goals weren’t as important as greasy goals (or something along those lines) and that’s what they got on this night. None of their four tallies will be appearing on any highlight reels but that doesn’t matter in the least. In fact, because all of their goals were the finished products of great team and individual efforts, it shows how hungry the Kings are and how determined they are to win. They certainly didn’t leave anything on the table on Thursday night and for that, they should be proud of themselves. It’s also worth noting that 11 different Kings registered a point en route to the win.
In goal, Jonathan Quick was spectacular. Stopping 20 of 22 shots, he wasn’t quite as busy as his counterpart but the Conn Smythe winner, as he usually is, was great when he had to be and made some wonderful saves as he impeded the Blues from their many momentum swings on this night. It seems as if the further the season goes along, the better Quick plays and how can anyone complain about that?
The Kings will now travel north to St. Paul where they will prepare to take on the only Western team they have yet to face this year: the Minnesota Wild.