If you only watched the first 7 minutes of the game and were forced to guess the final score, chances are good that you would not have guessed a Kings’ victory. You sure as hell would not have come up with a 4-1 butt kicking. The start was slow. The middle and end frames were a thing of beauty.
Jonathan Quick and a few fortunate bounces were the reason the game remained scoreless until just under 9 minutes left in the first period. The Kings survived the Blue Jackets’ attack, including two penalty kills. At the 8:55 mark, Alexander Frolov did what he does best – control the puck – and made a nice pass to Matt Greene who rocketed a slap shot past Mason. The period ended with the 1-0 score.
The second saw the Blue Jackets lose their intensity while the Kings enhanced theirs. After a nice defensive play by Sean O’Donnell, the Kings broke out of the defensive zone, and Ryan Smyth took a pass from Wayne Simmonds. He then dropped the puck to Kopitar who did not shoot immediately (but subtly faked as if he intended to), broke to the left circle and sent a laser to the top corner and past Columbus goaltender Chris Mason. The goal was a small milestone for Anze – the 100th of his young career.
The Kings elevated their game in the third and received goals from Ryan Smyth on a small scrum in front of the net. Dustin Brown who threw the puck in that direction received the assist. The Kings then scored number 4 by, who else, Anze Kopitar on a, gasp, powerplay – specifically a 5 on 3 or was it a one man advantage? It doesn’t matter. It was a power play goal.
Antione Vermette picked up the puck on a partially broken play from Kristian Huselius and put a wrist shot past Quick that deflected off O’Donnell. Damn.
After a 4-1 victory, you would expect to have had one team dominate the other. That really never happened tonight. Columbus simply could not convert on their chances and much of that credit goes to Quick for his excellent positioning and quick…er, speedy reflexes. The Kings defense also receives much praise for breaking up nearly a dozen potentially solid scoring chances by having their sticks in passing lanes and bodies all over Columbus forwards. The Kings are at their best when they play a team game. This was a team victory with contributions from all four lines and a stellar performance by Jonathan Quick.
A FEW TIDBITS:
– How good is Ryan Smyth? Answer: Very. He is every goalie’s nightmare. Mason may have a few of those tonight.
– Dustin Brown was all business. I didn’t see him smile once, not even after being directly or indirectly involved in a couple of goals.
– Matt Greene should do what he did tonight more – what did he do? Get involved in the offense. He has a hard and heavy shot. Shoot more Matt, shoot much more.
– I want to have a beer with Ken Hitchcock. He looks like the type of guy with whom you can do that.
– Kopitar almost had a hat trick. With under 7 minutes in the third…ping!
– Does our team kick ass on the road or what?
– Jack Johnson suffered an upper body injury. More vague and inconclusive statements to follow.
Categories: L.A. Kings News