Kings: Three takeaways from season-saving win against Arizona

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

The Kings used a big third period to drop the Arizona Coyotes, potentially saving their season in the process. Here are some takeaways.

The Kings saw their three-game losing streak come to an end with a 4-3 victory against the Coyotes on Wednesday night.

Drew Doughty fired a shot on net from the point, and the puck was double-deflected into the back of the net to give the Kings their first lead of the game at the 13:55 mark of the third period.

While the Kings got back into the win column and added two points in the standings, they, oddly enough, ended up helping the Blues, who topped Vegas on Wednesday. Todd McLellan’s group is seven points back of the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division, but St. Louis and San Jose are in front of them.

Here are three takeaways from the Kings-Coyotes series finale.

1. Rally Kings

I expected the Kings to come out on fire after Drew Doughty called out select players on the team after Monday night’s abysmal showing. That wasn’t quite the case, as Arizona controlled the puck in the early stages of the game. It felt like Groundhog Day, as the Coyotes jumped out to a 2-0 lead before the final five minutes of the opening period.

And like Doughty scoring before the end of the first on Monday, Jaret Anderson-Dolan got the Kings on the board going into the first intermission. Arizona added another goal just under six minutes into the second period, extending their lead back to two goals while the Kings were held scoreless.

However, the Kings answered the bell in the final period, getting an early goal from Adrian Kempe that set the tone for what was to come. It was an excellent give-and-go from Kempe to Clague and back to Kempe, who rifled the puck past Adin Hill.

Jeff Carter and Carl Grundstrom tallied goals later in the period, putting the Kings on top for good.

“We had a tough first two periods,” Grundstrom admitted following the Kings’ 4-3 win. “We told ourselves that we have to step it up, and I think we did it as well. That was real nice.”

2. Net presence was outstanding

The traffic in front of the net was great for Todd McLellan’s group. It was critical on both Carter and Grundstrom’s goals, as both were deflected from other players, or in Grundstrom’s case, double-deflected.

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“Sometimes it’s that high tip, that high deflection, D men looking for sticks when they’re shooting,” McLellan said of the team’s net presence on Wednesday. “They scored off of it as well tonight, so net plays getting harder and harder in the league. It’s hard to control people in and around that area, and lots of goals are scored that way. So it was nice to see us get some.”

3. Plus/Minus Police Salute

Going back to the basic statistics of hockey, the LA Kings defenders were able to log an aggregate +3 rating, ballooned by Mikey Anderson’s +3 evening and anchored by Kurtis MacDermid‘s -2 rating. The latter is another story altogether, so don’t even get me started on that topic.

Still, it was nice to see Anderson with a +3, Doughty with a +2, and I thought Kale Clague played his best game in a Kings’ sweater on Wednesday.

“Since he’s come back up, he’s played quite well, both offensively and defensively, and his sense of where he is on the ice and his reads of when to go and when not to are much better now than they were when he left,” McLellan said of Clague.

LA Kings Schedule

The Kings are off Thursday, but a huge series against the Sharks lies ahead in another back-to-back on Friday and Saturday night. The Sharks have won the last four. Hopefully, the Kings aren’t looking beyond this series, as Vegas and Colorado wait in the weeds.