LA Kings vs. Ducks: Three best storylines in 5-1 win

LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Kings (Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) /

The LA Kings got back into the win column against the Ducks on Wednesday evening behind strong efforts from these three players.

After a heartbreaking defeat on Monday night, the LA Kings were back in action against their rival in the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday. A couple of hours before the game, the Kings’ goaltending situation took a hit when Cal Petersen landed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list for the second time this season.

With Jonathan Quick nursing an upper-body injury, Troy Grosenick drew in between the pipes with Matthew Villalta promoted to backup goaltending duties. The LA Kings jumped out to a fast start, a phrase repeated ad nauseam by the coaching staff and players this year, with Adrian Kempe giving the visitors a 1-0 lead 3:46 into the opening frame.

As for the rest of the scoring, Anze Kopitar and Kempe scored in the middle frame, while Andreas Athanasiou and Alex Iafallo scored in the third period. A couple of quick notes:

  • The Kings were 2-for-4 on the powerplay and killed off all four penalties.
  • Drew Doughty picked up another assist and a +2 rating.
  • The Kings only won 43 percent of faceoffs.

Here were the prominent storylines in the Kings 5-1 victory on Wednesday.

1. Adrian Kempe stays hot

How does six goals in the last three games sound? Kempe was called out by the coaching staff not too long ago, asking for more offensive contributions. He recently indicated that he’s been actively trying to play around the net more, and the results are immediately showing. As noted, Kempe had the game’s first goal and nearly had back-to-back hat tricks.

A backhanded shot stopped by John Gibson with 10:06 left in the third period, and a stop on a partial breakaway with 1:04 left in the game prevented Kempe from achieving history. The question in the back of everyone’s mind is how long this stretch of solid play will last? Consistency has been an issue for the 24-year-old in his career thus far.

2. Andreas Athanasiou picking up speed

Athanasiou signed three days before training camp was set to open in an effort to provide more secondary scoring. He started off the season red-hot, scoring three goals in three games until a positive COVID test sidelined him for over two weeks. The 26-year-old took a few games to find his sea legs again, but he was very noticeable on the ice through two periods.

So noticeable that we looked up his xGF% before the start of the third period.

It didn’t take long into the final period for Athanasiou to be rewarded, scoring his sixth goal of the season. Might the LA Kings look at extending the upcoming unrestricted free agent?

3. First win for Troy Grosenick in over six years

Following the game, Grosenick spoke with the media and indicated he had a sense that he could be playing in Wednesday’s game. While nothing was official, he indicated that once he saw Villalta standing across from him in the locker room, that’s when he knew he would be the starting goaltender.

The 31-year-old journeyman stopped 33-of-34 shots on net and could have had a shutout had Olli Maatta not forgotten how to play defense. Of course, the attention now shifts to Friday’s game. Will Quick be healthy enough to return? How long will Cal be on the NHL’s COVID protocol list? A lot of uncertainty in the goaltending group right now.

LA Kings Schedule

We’ll keep tabs on the goaltending situation, but the LA Kings will travel to Denver to face the Avalanche for a two-game set with puck drop set for Friday at 6 pm PT.