The LA Kings looked better on Sunday against the Golden Knights, but Vegas still managed to sweep the two-game series.
After back-to-back embarrassments against the Ducks and Golden Knights, the LA Kings came out firing on all cylinders on Sunday. Anze Kopitar and the Kings’ offense needed just 36 seconds to take the early advantage, their second time scoring the first goal in 11 games this season. Alex Iafallo carried the puck through the neutral zone, crossing the blue line before centering a pass that ultimately found Kopitar alongside the right side, who fired a shot past Robin Lehner for his second goal and 14th point of the 2021 season.
With just over 14 minutes remaining in the first period, the Kings turned the puck over in the neutral zone with Jonathan Marchessault finding forward Reilly Smith on a partial breakaway, beating Cal Petersen’s weak side to even the score at one goal apiece. Smith’s goal was his fifth time lighting the lamp against Los Angeles and 15th career point.
Just over a minute later, the Kings were able to regain the lead. Following a faceoff just outside of the LA Kings defensive zone, Gabe Vilardi carried the puck through the neutral zone and into Vegas territory before dishing a backhanded pass to Adrian Kempe, who carried the puck along the right side and fired a similar shot as Kopitar’s past Lehner.
Two shots, two goals. The Kings were being outshot 8-2 but boasted a one-goal lead…for all of about 26 seconds.
A puck sent down ice saw Vegas get behind LA Kings defenders. Cody Glass received a puck to the left of the Cal Petersen, who scanned the ice, finding Zach Whitecloud just inside the right dot. The 24-year-old blueliner fired a one-timer past Petersen, who was badly screened by traffic in front of the net.
Yeah, that tweet says it all. Talk about taking back the momentum.
With the score knotted up at two goals apiece, Vegas took back the lead. From the end boards, the Knights sent a pass up-ice that Kurtis MacDermid made a bad attempt at defending. Mark Stone grabbed the puck in the neutral zone, sending a blind drop-pass to Chandler Stephenson at center ice. Stephenson just blew by Lias Andersson and Austin Strand, burying the puck past Peterson’s glove side, which has been a problem this year.
Quite an eventful first period, but there was a noticeable improvement from the previous two games. The Kings were competitive, despite some defensive struggles.
Moving along to the second period, Jaret Anderson-Dolan played in his second consecutive game after spending a bunch of time on the team’s taxi squad. With just over 11 minutes remaining in the middle frame, JAD joined the rush, with Austin Wagner sending a puck around the end boards to Trevor Moore, who sent it to JAD in the slot, burying it past Lehner for his first career NHL goal.
The Kings and Golden Knights remained tied heading into the final period.
It didn’t take long for Vegas to grab the lead in the third period. With 1:38 gone by and the Knights on a powerplay, Chandler Stephenson carried the puck through the neutral zone and into Kings’ territory. It looked like he tried to center the puck to Alex Tuch, but the puck deflected off Kale Clague‘s stick and got past Petersen for Stephenson’s second goal of the contest.
Despite their best efforts at a comeback, the Golden Knights held off the Kings by a 4-3 final score, completing the two-game set at T-Mobile Arena.
LA Kings Quotes
Todd McLellan on the quality of looks on Sunday compared to Tuesday and Thursday.
Yeah, I thought we did a much better job than we did in games prior. You go back to the game in Los Angeles when we played Anaheim – we were nonexistent in that area. Today, against a good team, a good goaltender. I thought we created a lot of good looks. I thought we kept plays alive in the offensive zone. Maybe a little more polish, we would have had one more. I’m thinking the powerplay the one-timer across to Kempe. [He] had a great opportunity there, but offensively I thought we improved as a team tonight.
McLellan on JAD’s first NHL goal
You know what’s happened over the last few games with Arty [Arthur Kaliyev] getting his and Jaret getting his tonight, the bench was really excited. For me, it uplifted all of us. He’s worked really hard. He’s bided his time and deserved all the ice time he’s got over the last two games, so [he] did a good job penalty killing, played well five-on-five, and was rewarded with the goal. We’re happy with what he’s been providing.
McLellan on whether the defensive rush chances allowed are still a concern.
They’re still a concern. We gave up w fewer of them like if you look at the goals, we turned the puck over in the neutral zone on the first one, and they came right back at us. The second one, I think we can handle so much better. And we’re very capable of doing it in our zone in the zone. And the third one was the one that was very poorly played. But it was by a couple of relatively inexperienced players, and they [Vegas] make you pay for mistakes. And as a result, that was the one that probably broke our back more than anything.
LA Kings Schedule
The Kings will have Monday off before hosting the San Jose Sharks for a two-game set at Staples Center. The two teams are in the basement of the West Division, with both needing a sweep to turn their seasons around. The Kings need to find their defense with Matt Roy and Sean Walker out of the lineup.
Head coach Todd McLellan indicated that reinforcements are not coming, so it’s time for some of the younger players to find their game. This season is starting to get away from the LA Kings.