Sutter Wins First with Kings

Newly-appointed head coach Darryl Sutter looks on. (photo courtesy of NHL.com)

It’s hard to measure exactly how much of an impact Darryl Sutter had on his new team earlier tonight, but one thing is for sure, he’s already off to a good start. The Kings defeated the Anaheim Ducks in a shootout 3-2, with help from Dustin Brown and Jarret Stoll, who notched the extra-time goals.

During the game’s initial 65 minutes, the Kings played with a tenacity (evidenced mostly by Colin Fraser’s scrap with Anaheim’s Matt Belesky in the first period) that served them well in this game and will certainly be something to build on.

Something else to build on was the return of all-star forward Mike Richards, who had missed the last 8 games with an “upper-body injury,” although most everyone will agree it was most likely a concussion. Nonetheless, Richards was strong in his first game back and recorded the Kings’ first goal of the evening in the second period with a pretty deflection off of Drew Doughty’s slapper from the blue line. With the hand-eye coordination required to net one like that, safe to say any ill effects caused by the head trauma are things of the past.

With the game knotted at one several minutes into the third period, Brown broke the tie and ignited his team with his eighth of the year. One might say it was a thrill in itself to see this struggling Kings team playing with a lead so late into the game but alas, it would not last. In the waning minutes of the period, Lubomir Visnovsky found the back of the net with a powerful shot from beyond the slot. After three more minutes of gridlocked play, the game was headed to overtime yet again for the home team.

The Kings’ penalty kill was fantastic in this game, if not more than fantastic when faced with a kill in the overtime period. They held the Ducks’ powerplay to a mere three shots on all three powerplays for the game. The Kings found themselves with a few more scoring chances before the clock struck zero, but were unable to put one more in before a shootout was needed to decide the victor.

Correy Perry and Stoll traded goals as the first shooters, but it was Brown who was the only one to score again as his team recorded the victory, their second in the last two games.

Jonathan Quick stopped 20 of the 22 shots he faced, earning his fourteenth win of the season.

Several players admitted before the game that they were “excited” for a new coach and the opportunity for Sutter to lead these Kings out of the Pacific division basement and back into hockey relevancy. His players rose to the occasion, perhaps (and fittingly) no one more so than Brown. Look for this team to respond a little better when down and to be able to take it up a few notches when protecting a lead. They showed they were capable of such a task tonight. Tomorrow’s contest with the San Jose Sharks can only further cement their desire to right the ship and play like the team once considered contenders in the Western conference.