The LA Kings will not be going to the postseason, but they had a chance to play spoiler for the Coyotes. Here were three takeaways from Monday’s game.
Despite a disappointing ending to their four-game series against the Ducks, the LA Kings had a chance to play playoff spoiler for the Coyotes, who entered the night three points back of the St. Louis Blues for the fourth and final playoff spot in the West Division.
Entering this series, a few items to monitor included how the Kings would respond following the Ducks series, if they could continue to receive offensive production from the blue line, and if the powerplay could contribute.
Here were my three takeaways from the LA Kings 3-2 win.
1. Trevor Moore proving he belongs
A microcosm of the season, the LA Kings dominated the first period, outshooting the Coyotes 11-2 before Christian Dvorak got the home team on the board first. Trevor Moore responded quickly with a goal off a faceoff, collecting his 10th goal of the year and tying the game at one in the process.
Despite playing in Arizona, there was a very clear and loud cheer from the crowd on Moore’s goal, so it was nice to see (or hear, I should say) that Kings fans traveled well, given the limitations on attendance. Initially, it looked like Quinton Byfield had collected his first NHL point on Moore’s goal, but it was later taken off the board.
Moore is an impending RFA. He will get a well-deserved contract extension, but he’s also making a case for the LA Kings to protect him in Seattle’s expansion draft.
2. Defensive production showing up
As noted earlier, the Kings blueline accounted for 7-of-14 first-period shots on goal. Jim Fox noted it on the broadcast, but there has been more activity from the blueline lately, which was a point of emphasis for Matt Roy.
“I think it’s something that we recognized earlier in the year,” Roy said after the Monday morning skate. “You know, we’re always trying to pitch in whether we’re doing it or not. We definitely need to find a way to get more pucks to the net.”
The Kings’ third goal came with Drew Doughty firing an absolute rocket on goal in the second period, with Alex Iafallo burying the rebound home for his 12th goal of the year. The goal also came on the man advantage, marking their first powerplay goal since April 28.
And for what it’s worth, I thought Mikey Anderson had one of his best games this season.
He had two terrific shifts back-to-back. The first, he separated Conor Garland from the puck against the end boards and finished his check. On the next shift, he had a beautiful poke check at the point, knocking the puck out of the Coyotes attacking zone.
3. Kopitar inches ever closer to 1,000
With seven games remaining, it was nearly a foregone conclusion that Anze Kopitar would join three other LA Kings in the 1,000-point club. He entered the night with 997 but moved within just one after tallying a goal and an assist on Monday.
The goal came in the second period with Adrian Kempe leading the rush up-ice, dishing the puck to the Kings captain for what was essentially a tap-in. It was Kopitar’s 13th goal of the year and his 998th career point. He also tallied a secondary assist on Iafallo’s goal, marking his 999th career point.
“It’s incredible to be out there with him,” Iafallo noted following the game. “One point away, it’s a pretty amazing accomplishment. It’s just an honor to play with him. He’s a good leader and a good friend as well.”
Kopitar will look to achieve the historic milestone when these two teams meet again on Wednesday.
Jonathan Quick did not return for the start of the third period due to an upper-body injury. Looking ahead in the schedule to the back-to-back on Friday and Saturday, there is the possibility that Troy Grosenick could make his second start of the year if Quick cannot go.