Kings Ride Rookies to 4-2 Win Over Dallas
Andrei Loktionov (#48) celebrates his second goal of the season with Jack Johnson (#3) and Anze Kopitar (#11). Photo courtesy of Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Last week, underachieving yet aching Jarrett Stoll was placed on injured reserve. Defenseman Slava Voynov was also moved, albeit demoted to the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs. In their place arrived two young forwards, Dwight King and Jordan Nolan, making their NHL debuts. This afternoon the duo achieved just that, notching a combined three points en route to a Kings victory.
Nolan was responsible for netting the team’s game-winning goal 11:29 into the final period of play in addition to a secondary assist earlier in the contest. Despite only producing sixteen shots on net, the Kings scored four goals for only the third time this calendar year. Goaltender Jonathan Quick was impressive on his side of the ice, stopping twenty-six of the twenty-eight shots he faced one day after being pulled in his most recent start.
It was King who scored first for the Kings 8:54 into the first period. After some good work against the boards, he picked up a misplayed rebound in front of Dallas’s Kari Lehtonen and slapped it into the net. Nolan, a six-foot-three, twenty-two year old center from St. Catherines, Ontario had amassed a mere five goals in seventy-five games at the AHL level last year. He only needed two games to notch his first as a Los Angeles King.
Grabbing the second tally of the night for only his second of the season was Andrei Loktionov, who deflected a Jack Johnson shot past Lehtonen to give the Kings a two goal advantage. For a road trip that had plenty more downs than ups, a two score lead against a key division rival certainly had the team riding high and resembling a confident team for the first time in a long time.
It wouldn’t last however, as Dallas tied the game with two goals in less than twelve minutes of play. Michael Ryder and Loui Eriksson recorded their twenty-first and eighteenth of the season, respectively. Suddenly the Kings were seemingly back on their heels and amidst yet another offensive struggle.
But, that all changed approximately seven minutes later with Nolan’s go-ahead tally. A penalty-free third period gave way to enough even strength play, something that Los Angeles’ has recently improved on. Justin Williams scored on a last second empty netter to give the Kings their fourth goal of the evening. The team ended their tough road trip with a win, only their second of the six-game long journey.
Heading home the team now sits tied for sixth overall in the Western Conference and a mere one point behind San Jose for the Pacific division (although the Sharks, oddly, continue to have four games in hand).
It will be interesting to see what role these two rookies will play moving forward, and what exactly that means for healthy scratch Dustin Penner, who can’t exactly be thrilled with the weekend’s events.