Second Period Onslaught Leads Kings Past Blue Jackets, 4-2
Another slow first period put the Kings in a hole at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
A Slava Voynov goal was disallowed when Anze Kopitar was called for incidental contact with Columbus goalie, Steve Mason. The Kings entered the game 2-3-2 and in 14th place in the Western conference with road games in Detroit, St. Louis, and Chicago looming tonight's game was crucial. The Blue Jackets took the lead when a shot went off the skate of Derek MacKenize and found its way past Jonathan Quick. Adding injury to insult Drew Doughty limped off the ice writhing in pain after taking a slapshot to his foot just before the end of the period.
The second period was reminiscent of the dominate Kings team of last postseason which has rapidly become a memory. A smothering forecheck, crisp passes, and aggressive defense allowed the Kings to annihilate the Blue Jackets 17-2 in shots. Los Angeles put together its best period of play so far this season and tallied three goals.
Kopitar received an outlet pass from Doughty (not seriously injured) and outskated a pursuing Blue Jacket defender before unleashing a slapshot version of a backhand that found a hole between Mason's glove and leg pad. The goal came 32 seconds into the second period and set the tone for the rest of the game.
Former Blue Jacket, Jeff Carter scored the second Kings' goal when he put in a rebound from a Dustin Brown shot. The power play goal was Carter's fourth of the season and made the Kings 5 for their last 16 on extra man opportunities. Carter has openly criticized the Blue Jackets organization and has never shied away from articulating his disapproval of how he was handled when he was there. The crowd of 11,000 booed Carter whenever he scored, touched the puck, and went onto the ice, possibly making Jeff Carter the most hated man in Columbus, Ohio.
Derick Brassard had one of the few Blue Jackets' highlights when he corralled a Tim Erixon shot and unleashed a spinning backhand. Brassard used his body as a shield from Quick who was suspecting a deflection from the defenseman's slap shot and was caught off guard when Brassard smartly paused for a moment before sending the puck to the net. The equalizing goal came at the 5:36 mark of the second period.
For the rest of the game the Kings defense would only allow six more Columbus shots including a 16 minute span without one shot on cage.
Voynov scored the winning goal on a slap shot with 9:34 left in the second period. The puck went around the boards to the Kings defenseman sitting just above the right face off circle. Voynov is arguably the Kings best one-timer shooter and unleashed a rocket that blew by Mason's right shoulder.
After a short outing against the Ducks when Quick was pulled after only seven minutes the Conn Smythe winner responded with spectacular saves in the third period. Facing only 20 shots Quick finished the night with 18 saves but several at the end were highlight reel worthy and preserved the win for the Kings. Spans without action can disrupt a goalie's focus causing slow movement when action finally appears.
His best save of the night occured on a two-on-one break. Artem Anisimov and Derek Dorsett barralled down the ice with the Kings defensman out of position. Anisimov seemed content on shooting and waited until the last possible moment to pass the puck to the adjacent Blue Jackets' forward who was now near the right side of the crease. When Dorsett received the puck half the net was open but Quick - living up to his name - spun around the crease facing the shooter who put the one-timer off his mask.
Mike Richards scored the final goal of the night with 7:16 left in the contest and Justin Williams ended the night with three assists.
Three Star Selections:
1st: Justin Williams 2nd: Anze Kopitar 3rd: Derrick Brassard
The Kings head to Nashville to take on the Predators Thursday night at 5.