By Surly Jacob.
The Kings continued to punch their way through the preseason tonight with a 4-2 win over the New York Islanders. The fans at Sprint Center in Kansas City walked away from their lone NHL game of the year having seen a contest full of goals and goons. If you don’t get to see much hockey, I imagine a fist-filled game would be rather pleasing. There were a total of five official fights in the game, but there were plenty of other antics taking place.
As a result of those antics, one player was not on the ice when the final buzzer sounded. Defenseman Sean O’Donnell spent the final period in the dressing room, punishment for the sin of defending a team mate. He received a match penalty at 16:37 of the second period when he essentially assaulted Islander forward Matt Martin for high sticking O’Donnell’s charge, Drew Doughty, good for a 5 minute major penalty and a game ejection.
This was not the first time Doughty was nearly injured by an unnecessary play, but it was the first time someone stood up for him. Last year Doughty was hit in the kneecap on what most saw as a dirty play by Evgeni Artyukin, then a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning. The hit was bad enough, but the more discouraging part was that Artyukin skated away without comeuppance. It would appear that the team has finally learned to protect its young stars, and Matt Martin picked the wrong game to take liberties with Doughty.
After viewing the play from across the ice, the war-torn veteran O’Donnell skated immediately over to Martin and knocked him down to the ice, pouncing on him like a lioness protecting her cubs. There was some worry that Martin was injured, as was O’Donnell’s intent per the referees, but Martin was fine and played the rest of the game.
There is a definite trend in the Kings preseason thus far, one I am very happy to see. This team ‘don’t take no crap’. While O’Donnell’s zeal in defending Doughty cost the Kings a goal by exciting young Islander forward Josh Bailey on the ensuing power play, it signals a shift in the team’s attitude. From that new perspective comes team play, and from team play comes goals.
Teddy Purcell continued his strong play and put the Kings up early, scoring on a power play 8:33 into the contest. Assisting on the goal were Jarret Stoll and Thomas Hickey, who opened up the lane for Purcell after they drew the penalty killing forwards too high with a slick game of catch at the point. Stoll played on the first line with Purcell and Trevor Lewis and saw ample power play time during the game, his first of the preseason, after dealing with arthritis pain.
The Islander’s responded quickly with defenseman Andy Sutton scoring a goal just two minutes later when he snuck behind Wayne Simmonds to deflect a shot past Jonathan Quick. Simmonds would later make up for this hiccup, scoring a short-handed goal late in the second, adding the insurance empty netter to end the game, and punching Matt Martin a few times in the third, just for good measure.
Quick kept the score tied late in the first, robbing Tim Jackman on a point-blank opportunity. It wouldn’t be the last time Quick thieved an Islander of what looked like a sure goal. Quick would also stop Bailey and Nate Thompson on similar opportunities.
Also scoring for the Kings was Drew Doughty, who scored during a 2-man advantage at 10:43 of the third off a clean feed from Alexander Frolov as he streaked down the right wing boards.
Bailey cut the lead to one with his goal early in the third period, a shot that Quick had trouble controlling and could not cover before Bailey put home his own rebound. That would be the end of it for Islanders, as the Kings played a strong, if not somewhat frantic, third period to preserve their lead.
The Kings will play Colorado tomorrow night at the Pepsi Center. It is expected that Brayden Schenn and Kyle Clifford will play in the game, and it might also be Ryan Smyth’s first game against his former team.
Categories: L.A. Kings News