Kings Regain Winning Ways, Defeat Tampa Bay 3-1
Kyle Clifford puts the eventual game-winner past a struggling Dwayne Roloson. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
Following two losses in the first two games of their road-trip east, the Kings looked everything but confident heading into a nationally televised game in Tampa Bay. However, any offensive rust was shaken off rather quickly and a defensive performance like no other propelled the team to a 3-1 victory earlier tonight.
The Kings notched only one goal in their previous 120 minutes of play, but recorded three tallies on a mere twenty shots against a struggling Dwayne Roloson en route to their twenty-sixth win of the season. On the other end of the ice, Jonathan Quick was solid as usual, allowing only one goal on twenty-five shots from the potent Tampa Bay offense. League-leader Steven Stamkos was responsible for the lone goal with his wrist shot that tied the game at one a little less than eight minutes into the second period.
Anze Kopitar increased his season goal total to seventeen when he recorded the first goal of the contest early in the first period of play. After corralling the puck in the offensive zone and sliding positioning himself just to the right of Roloson, the Slovene sensation tipped a Justin Williams wrist shot right above the opposing goaltender’s broad shoulders. Kopitar continues to lead the team in goals and now sits just seventeen behind his career-high of thirty-four with twenty-eight games left to play in the season.
Kyle Clifford found himself sitting in the penalty box for a roughing infraction amidst a tie game in the second period, but emerged full of energy and on the receiving end of a beautiful pass from Rob Scuderi, who was merely stationary at his own goal line. Clifford had all of the boost he needed for enough space make a move and deposit a backhand into the back of the net. It was the rookie’s fourth tally of the season and almost certainly his most highlight-worthy.
The Kings’ third goal of the evening came from an atypical contributor, which remains painfully ironic considering the size of his contract. Twenty-five million dollar man Dustin Penner tallied his fifth goal of the season with a strong snapshot less than ten feet in front of Roloson. The defense seemingly ignored the forward as he skated toward the middle of the offensive zone before unleashing the shot and giving his team a two-goal lead, their first within a game in the month of February.
The third period of play was spectacularly uneventful, as the Kings played in nearly full shut-down mode defensively; interrupting any and every rush Tampa Bay attempted to mount.
Up next for the Kings are the Florida Panthers and the fourth contest of their six game road trip. The surging Panthers had recently been bumped from the division lead over Washington, but nonetheless look to continue their impressive season Thursday night. Los Angeles remains second in their respective division and entrenched in the Western Conference’s seventh spot.