It was clear from the opening faceoff, this would be an energetic tight checking game.
The 1st period was not without a little drama. The Los Angeles Kings came into the game 0-24 on the power play. They got their first power play opportunity at 8:21 when Aaron Volpatti went off for tripping. The Kings got off only one shot, and did not score. In fact, the highlight of this opportunity, was a great defensive play by Jeff Carter. The Kings were applying pressure in the Canucks’ zone, when the visiting team finally broke out. Manny Malholtra found Maxim Lapierre in the neutral zone. Lapierre would have had a clean breakaway had it not been for a great backchecking effort by Carter, who caught up to and tied up Lapierre about 10 feet in front of Jonathan Quick.
The Canucks would get on the scoreboard first, when Henrik Sedin cleanly won a faceoff in the Kings’ zone. The puck went back to the blueline to Dan Hamhuis, who slid it over to his defense partner Alexander Edler, Edler pounded a slapshot, Quick made the save, but Zack Kassian was in perfect position to knock home the rebound at 13:08. Canucks led 1-0 after one period. Shots on goal for the period were even at nine apiece.
In the 2nd period, Vancouver picked up where they left off. After having applied steady pressure, the Canucks had the puck deep in the Kings zone. Alexandre Burrows and Chris Higgins went to work down low. As Burrows went behind the net, Higgins was covered by Mike Richards just to the right of Jonathan Quick, but his presence seemed to make Quick hesitate for just a moment before he slid across the crease to prevent Burrows’ wraparound attempt. Quick was just a tick late, Canucks led 2-0, 4:05 into the period. Then the game changed. The Kings began to show their mettle. The team began skating harder than they had, Head coach Darryl Sutter even began shuffling line combinations a bit. The result was the Kings not only holding the Canucks shotless for more than 8 mins, but they finally got their first power play goal of the season – The faceoff was in the Vancouver zone, and was won by the Canucks. As the puck went behind the net, Simon Gagne forechecked hard on the right wing boards. He briefly gained control of the puck, and centered a pass to Mike Richards whose shot attempt was partially blocked, but the loose puck went to Carter who fired the puck past Luongo at 18:14.
Kings outshot Vancouver 12-7 in the period. Vancouver led 2-1.
Line shuffling continued in the 3rd, as the Kings skated makeshift lines of Carter/Kopitar/Richards, Stoll/King/Nolan, Lewis/Gagne/Brown, Clifford/Fraser/Gagne and Williams/Carter/Richards, just to name a few. Vancouver did not get a shot on goal until 10:15 into the period, and what a shot it was. On the power play, Henrik and Daniel Sedin worked their magic down low in the Kings’s zone. Daniel Sedin then found linemate Zack Kassian alone in front, and Quick had to make a point-blank save.
The defense pairings remained intact until late in the game, when Drew Doughty was paired with Jake Muzzin, and Rob Scuderi with Davis Drewiske. Vancouver seemed content to protect the 2-1 lead, as time wound down, with neither team putting many shots on goal. Late in the game, the Kings pulled Jonathan Quick in favor of an extra skater as they tried to tie the game. It would come together at the 19:16 mark. Kopitar passed the puck to Slava Voynov at the blueline. Jeff Carter screened the goalie in the high slot, Justin Williams in the low. Voynov’s slapshot found it’s way through the double screen, and past Luongo to tie the game a 2-2.
Kings outshot Vancouver 6-3 in the 3rd period; the game headed to overtime.
Vancouver outshot the Kings 4-1 in overtime, but neither team scored.
The Kings chose Kopitar, Brown, and Carter for the shootout. Vancouver chose Burrows, Edler and Kassian. Kopitar and Brown were stopped by Luongo, and Quick stopped Burrows and Edler. Jeff Carter then provided the heroics, as he skated down the slot toward Luongo. Just as he had done in Edmonton, it was one deke to the forehand, and then he roofed a backhand up high into the net. It was all over but the shouting.
The sellout crowd erupted as Quick made the final save on Zack Kassian to seal this most satisfying comeback victory.
After falling behind 2-0, the Kings scored 3 unanswered goals to steal the game.
Kings outshot Vancouver 28-23.
Having defeated Phoenix on Saturday night, the Kings have now beaten two of the three Western Conference teams which they eliminated on the way to the 2012 Stanley Cup championship. They will not face the St.Louis Blues until Feb 11.
After a shaky start to the season, the Kings are proving they are still the big dogs in the yard.
Kings next game will be Thursday night at Staples Center against the Nashville Predators.
Three Stars of the game:
1) Anze Kopitar
2) Roberto Luongo
3) Slava Voynov
Kings (normal) line combinations:
Kings’ Defense pairings:
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