The Kings entered game 2 of their road trip at the Air Canada Centre against the struggling Maple Leafs. Toronto’s playoff chances are slim and none and, after tonight, slim may have left town. Grab your Molson Canadian beer, national healthcare card and a few loonies and let’s head to a hockey game.
The first period saw both teams exchanging goals. Drew Doughty fired a cannon to give the Kings a 1-0 lead at the 8:33 mark. Nikolai Kulemin tied the game on a harmless looking shot from the left boards that either surprised Quick or he misplayed it. Michigan Man, Jack Johnson gave the Kings back the lead early in the second on a nice slap shot that went through four players in front of the net, including Maple Leafs’ goaltender Jonas Gustavsson. The Leafs tied the game on a rare Rob Scuderi turnover. Niklas Hagman took the puck, drove to the net and placed a hard wrist shot in the top corner.
The scoreboard however didn’t tell the real story. The Kings were manhandling the Maple Leafs. Toronto appeared to struggle with the size of the Kings forwards who cut through the Leafs’ defense like, to coin a Maple Leafs’ between periods announcer, a knife through hot butter.
That knife came in the form Dustin Brown, Jarret Stoll and Ryan Smyth in the second period. Dustin checked Wayne Primeau, kicked snow in his face, took his girlfriend and the puck, skated to the net and a helpless Gustavsson watched Brown make a cross ice pass to Stoll who tapped it into the net. Minutes later, Ryan Smyth used the pressure created by Brown in the Leafs’ zone on the rush and ringed a perfect wrist shot off the post and into the net.
The third period resembled the first two – a hard skating and fast-forward style of hockey where the Kings cycled at will and gobbled valuable minutes. Toronto had an excellent scoring chance near the 14 minute mark of the third on a pass by Kessel to Finger who had an open half of the net but Jonathan Quick gave Jeff the finger on a sprawling save. By the mid way point of the third, the Leafs had generated two shots on goal, a tribute to the Kings very stingy defense. Quick didn’t get a lot of work but he was sharper in the third when he had to be, unlike the shaky preceding two.
The blue team cut the Kings lead to 1 on Hagman’s second goal of the game late in the third and with Gustavsson watching from the bench. Seconds later however, the Leafs 6 man unit forgot about the puck and the Kings broke toward an empty net 3 on 1. Frolov received the gift and put the nail in the proverbial coffin to give the Kings a 5-3 victory.
Thoughts & Tidbits
1. After the mid way point of the first period, someone stole the referee’s whistle. The zebras, especially in the second, let the Maple Leafs hook, hold, trip and everything else. No blood, no foul I suppose though I am not complaining too much. The Kings got away with a few as well.
2. Murray appeared to change the lines throughout the game. I saw Moller on the 4th and 2nd lines. I also saw Frolov jumping around. Maybe it was my imagination.
3. Michal Handzus played big and mean. He went where he wanted and any Maple Leaf in his way received his wrath.
4. Kudos to Dustin Brown. He was everywhere tonight. He too looked like a man among boys. Resistance was futile.
5. If you took a shot for every time Kopitar shot the puck wide, you would be drunk by the third.
6. I expected a more violent game tonight. I suppose Murray did as well since he put Ivanans on the ice. So much for that.
Categories: L.A. Kings News