Last night’s game against the Sharks was an emotionally charged victory. Our own Surly Jacob has only partially recovered. So when our Los Angeles Kings came home tonight to play the waiting Phoenix Coyotes, some Kings fans wondered if we were going for Round II or a let down akin to the “Post Penguins” hangover game earlier in the season. After all, the Coyotes were coming into this game undefeated in 5 and Ilya Bryzgalov sported a GAA of less than 2.
This Kings fan never had a doubt.
This Kings team was unimpressed.
Wayne Simmonds started the scoring by taking control of the puck (and the shift) and making a beautiful pass from the “office” to Oscar Moller who leaned his stick back and roofed the puck over Bryzgalov. Simmonds continues to show a maturity and game breaking ability that is so far beyond his years.
Jack Johnson put the Kings up 2-0 on a bang bang play that saw him receive his own rebound after hitting the post on a wicked slap shot. Incredibly, he slammed the puck home with a one timer. Does he get a goal and an assist? No. But he does get our sincere admiration for everything mother fu***** Johnson.
The Coyotes though didn’t quit and took advantage of the Kings pressing deep in their own zone. Rob Scuderi suddenly faced a two on one. Matthew Lombardi put the puck inches past Scuderi and to Scottie (I thought only girls ended their names with “ie”, no?) Upshall who beat Quick by the same number of inches on a near perfect shot inside the right post. The Kings had their share of chances to take a 3-1 lead. Frolov looked like a man possessed out there at times and put a “walking the dog” move past Sami Lepisto that lifted nearly every Kings fan in LA out of their seats. Some are still not sure how the hell that didn’t go in.
The 2nd period ended with the same score and the Kings started the third with the lead. Why is that important? Because coming into this game, the Kings were 13-0 when leading after 2 periods.
Going for 14…
The Coyotes scored early as Martin Hanzal picked up the rebound and Radim Vrbata slid the puck over the line. The power play goal seemed to give the Desert Dogs some momentum but the Kings would neither bend nor break. Both goaltenders came up with some big saves but none bigger than 3 consecutive saves (the last of which caused me to suffer a groin injury just watching it) by Jonathan Quick and for the second night in a row, the Kings were headed to overtime. Unlike last night however, despite some quality chances and controlling nearly the entire overtime, the Kings could not put the Coyotes away.
Off to the skills competition.
Yes, I am hockey purist.
Yes, I do not like the shootout.
Yes, I was at the edge of my seat watching it.
Yes, I felt semi-guilty for enjoying it.
Kings: Kopitar, shot it wide. No goal.
Coyotes: Vrbata, nice move, denied by Quick’s glove.
Kings: Johnson, fake, backhand, lifts it over Bryzgalov and in! GOAL!
Coyotes: Mueller, damn, nice shot, goal.
Kings: Brown, tried to go 5 hole, no goal.
Coyotes: Doan, for the love of everything right in this world do not let this son of a…BIG SAVE by Quick. No goal.
Kings: Simmonds, tried to go 5 hole, no goal.
Coyotes: Korpikoski, ping…Quick gave him nothing but the post. No goal.
Kings: Handzus…really, Handzus. SCOOPED it over Bryzgalov, a beauty. GOAL!
Coyotes: Prucha, OH! Damn it! Lucky goal.
Kings: Parse, tried to go 5 hole, have we learned NOTHING from Brown and Simmonds, no goal.
Coyotes: Lombardi, tried to go 5 hole, weak effort, no goal.
Kings: Doughty, one, two, three head and shoulder fakes, BAM! Nice wrister up top. GOAL.
Coyotes: Lang, wow, nice backhand. Goal.
Kings: Williams, what a move, backhand, 5 hole? GOAL!
Coyotes: Upshall, keeping fingers, toes, and other imposing body parts crossed, head fake, wrist shot…does Quick have it? Does he? YES! No goal.
First to 20 wins in the west.
10 games over .500.
14-0-0 when leading after 2 periods.
8-1-1 in the division.
1 point behind the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific Division.
2nd in the Western Conference.