For the third game in the Kings’ seven-game homestand, Los Angeles hosted Columbus in Crypto.com Arena. The Kings were the heavy favorites going into the game, at -275 according to DraftKings, and proceeded to take care of business much like the sportsbooks thought they would.
As mentioned in a previous article, a win for the Kings and a loss for the Blue Jackets seemingly helps both teams because the Kings are trying to catch Vegas in the playoff race in the Pacific Division and the Columbus Blue Jackets would love to be able to land the No. 1 overall pick, so they can draft Connor Bedard.
Los Angeles now sits at 40-20-9, and just one point behind the Vegas Golden Knights for first place in the Pacific Division. The Kings have 89 points to the Golden Knights’ 90 points. Vegas brutally lost last night to the Calgary Flames with a final score of 7-2, so it makes the race for first that much closer.
The next game for Los Angeles is this coming Saturday March 18th against the Vancouver Canucks and the next day Vegas plays Columbus. With only 13 games left in the season for the Kings, the storyline between Jonathan Quick’s current team and Jonathan Quick’s former team continues to turn into a juicy one. Now, let’s recap the matchup with the Blue Jackets.
First Period: LAK 0, CBJ 0
The last four times the Kings have been blanked in the first period they have gone on to win the game. So, it seems to be a good recipe for LA if the Kings go into the second period with zero goals on the board. And that’s exactly what happened this game, too.
Early in the period, Adrian Kempe took a penalty against the Jackets’ Nick Blankenburg, but the Kings were able to kill off the penalty successfully without seeing the puck end up in the back of the net.
The Kings peppered Daniil Tarasov in the first period with 14 shots on goal, but none of them were able to get by him. Until the second period when the net seemed wide open.
Second Period: LAK 4, CBJ
For the second straight game, the Kings explode for four goals in the second period, which would ultimately propel them towards a win by more than one goal. This time, defenseman Drew Doughty opened up the scoreboard with an elite move around Blue Jackets’ center Lane Pederson, handles the puck all the way to the net, fires it on Tarasov, gets stopped, but follows it to the net and taps it in for the goal in what should most definitely be featured on Steve’s Hat-Picks next week.
Roughly three minutes later, Quinton Byfield showed an impressive sense of where he was on the ice and where Anze Kopitar was on the ice because he made an incredible no-look pass to Kopitar who was open on the backdoor feed. The Kings’ captain did not get all of the puck, but he got just enough of it to get it past Daniil Tarasov and put LA up by two goals.
With about seven and a half minutes to go in the period, Viktor Arvidsson scored off an impressive slapshot from a long cross-ice pass from Trevor Moore. One could argue that this was the least impressive goal of the four for the Kings because every goal LA scored this period was highlight-worthy.
The final goal of the period came from Carl Grundstrom. Grundstrom got bumped on the boards by the Blue Jackets’ Mathieu Olivier, recovered the puck, danced around Lane Pederson, fired it on net for the goal, and got pushed after the shot. It was a very NHL 23-esque goal, if there ever was one.
Third Period: LAK 4, CBJ 1
The Kings skated into the third period after a mesmerizing second period and held a comfortable four goal lead. For 40 minutes, the Kings and Pheonix Copley kept the puck out of their own net. Finally, about five minutes into the final period, Columbus got one past Copley. Right-hander Kirill Marchenko fired a wrist-shot in traffic and snuck it by the 31-year old netminder.
But, that was the only goal the Blue Jackets scored for 60 minutes, which gave Pheonix Copley a .967 save percentage with 29 saves on 30 shots. 29 saves on 30 shots and a .967 save percentage was the same stat line he had in his last appearance against the Nashville Predators on March 11th, in which the Kings lost in a shootout.
The journey continues towards the Stanley Cup Playoffs for Los Angeles and right now it seems the Kings are red-hot.