A DEFINING VICTORY – KINGS BEAT SABRES 4-3 IN SHOOTOUT

Effort.

60 minutes of hard charging action.

Everything that is great about hockey.

The Buffalo Sabres are an absolute pleasure to watch. At times, I felt like the Kings were defending against five forwards. But our boys came into this game prepared – ready to face an offensive juggernaut of a team and a strategy from the drop of the puck not to fall back, collapse, and passively defend against the charge but to defend the Sabres’ attack with…well, an attack of their own.

The Kings started the scoring with Brad Richardson’s perfect deflection on Drew Doughty’s shot from the point. The first period ended 1-0 but didn’t last long into the second. Less than 30 seconds in, Sean O’Donnell deflected a centering pass by Clarke MacArthur. The Sabres took the lead on a power play goal by Tim Connolly.  Video replay called back Oscar Moller’s ensuing goal (they ruled that Oscar knocked the puck in with his glove) and while you could feel a small deflation in the crowd, it didn’t translate to the Kings’ bench. With under a minute in the second, Sean O’Donnell scored his second goal of the game (sarcasm intended) on a slap shot that Ryan Miller never saw because Michal Handzus planted his rear end directly in front of the Buffalo goaltender’s mask.

Another early period goal in the third put Buffalo ahead 3 to 2 but the Kings never quit. Near the half way mark, Dustin Brown made a pass to Jarret Stoll on the right side, Stoll sent a quick cross ice pass to Ryan Smyth, and somehow Smyth got around the Sabres’ defender and fortuitously had the puck deflect off his skate and into the net. Stick, skate, shin or head, it doesn’t matter. That goal was all hustle. At times, I give thanks to the hockey gods for bringing us Ryan Smyth.

Neither team could put it away in the third. The Kings dominated overtime but Ryan Miller was equal to the task.

Here we go…

Kings Shooter 1: Kopitar: We all wondered…forehand, backhand, slide it under Miller’s pads? Yes..and no. Kopitar went to the same move but rather than put the puck underneath Miller’s pads, he roofed it over the goaltender’s glove and beat Miller clean.

Sabres Shooter 1: Stafford: A quick deke, with speed and a wicked wrist shot over Quick’s pad.

Kings Shooter 2: MFJohnson: The same move as Kopitar, beautifully executed but the puck just deflected off Miller’s glove. Jack had him beat but alas…

Sabres Shooter 2: Pominville: A gifted offensive player and it appeared he tried to go 5 hole against Quick. Not a great choice. Jonathan doesn’t lead the league in shootout wins for nothing.

Kings Shooter 3: Brownie: Dustin faked me out with that forehand move as I fell to the floor. Miller too flinched and that is all Brown needed to go to the backhand and send the puck over Miller and to the back of the net.

Sabres Shooter 3: Connolly: The Sabre that scored the go ahead goal made a very nice move, forehand, backhand, and I had to watch the replay three times to believe the save by Quick.  Jonathan, in full splits, while his body was moving back, and upper body turning left, made a save with his right pad…Gumbie has nothing on our star goalie.

I could be critical of certain Kings’ players, but I won’t. I won’t because this is, at the end of the night, a team game and this Kings’ team came out to win. I am so very proud of our players. This was a defining game and the definition was passion, pride and…you thought I was going there didn’t you…

Post Game Tidbits:

- I had to laugh at Terry Murray’s post game quote that he “hates” the shootout. I am with you coach.

- Happy Birthday Jonathan Quick. 24th year, 26th victory, 100% stud.

- Old school hockey was in order tonight, at least by the officials because they most definitely swallowed their whistles. The Kings should have received at least 4 more power plays including disallowing Connolly’s goal as Vanek pulled down Drew Doughty. Then again, how upset can we really be? All it would have accomplished was to further deflate our power play percentage.

- Throughout the 30 years that I have been a semi-psychotic Kings fan, I have come to know more than a few Buffalo Sabres counterparts. I can say with little hesitation that their fans are some of the classiest and most knowledgable in the league. They deserve the franchise they have and I only wish we would see them more during the season. In fact, you could say that my admiration for the Sabres is directly proportional to my sheer hatred of the Red Wings and the hobgoblins that pose as their fan base…come on, you didn’t think I would pass up a chance to take a shot at the Red Wings did you?

- I approved of Heidi Androl’s outfit tonight.

Now, let’s get a solid road trip together and keep climbing the standings!

Go Kings!



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