For once, Terry Murray’s rapid fire line changes won the Los Angeles Kings a hockey game.
The first two periods had the group of fathers who accompanied the Kings on this road trip taking cat naps. Wayne Simmonds dads’ hat was the most amusing thing in the arena until Ryan Smyth gave the Kings a boost with just under a minute left in the 2nd period. Simmonds threw the puck at Jason LaBarbera’s skates from the goal line, where Smyth poked it behind, skated around the net and slammed home the loose puck to pull the Kings to within one after the Coyotes had taken a 3-1 lead. Jason LaBarbera fell down like a fool on the play, and might as well have remained flopped on his back for the rest of the game.
Justin Williams’ tied the game when he beat LaBarbera between the legs with a backhand at 6:45 of the third period. 8 minutes later Drew Doughty blasted a slap shot over LaBarbera’s left shoulder to take a lead the Kings would only add to as the game drew to a close. Smyth scored the insurance empty netter for his second goal of the game after the Kings killed off a Phoenix power play to end the game.
Wayne Simmonds earned himself a special nod, playing a pesky and determined game. He played a big role on the penalty kill and broke up countless plays in every zone. Getting the “try to find something wrong with these hip checks” award is Drew Doughty, who destroyed so many streaking wingers along the boards he probably has a bruise on his butt in the shape of the Coyotes’ logo. There will be video of that to come, I promise. The hits, not his butt. Perverts. He’s barely legal!
Anze Kopitar is once again the NHL’s scoring leader with a goal and two assists to give him 11 goals and 13 assists on the season. Smyth also had two assists for four points. Combine that with Williams’ goal and that’s 8 points for the Kings long lost first line, the only one to remain together for most of the final period.
Even though the Kings could not seem to handle a pass or get off a good shot for 35 minutes tonight, they played their best third period of the season. Killing the penalty late in the game was a sure-fire season builder, the kind of close-out to a game they were unable to grab hold of last season, and even struggled with in the first few games this year. While one of the Coyotes’ goals was a bit soft, Jonathan Quick came up with several big saves, and never let the distasteful momentum shake his confidence. The same can’t be said for LaBarbera, who we Kings’ fan finally got to enjoy winning a game for us with a reliable collapse.
They all feel good, but this one feels really good.
One more time.
For good measure.
GO KINGS GO!
Categories: L.A. Kings News