Photo credit: The Canadian Press
Game 59; 31-22-6
LOS ANGELES – Given their recent luck, the Los Angeles Kings were simply looking for a win. Against the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets, two points would have meant a bit more. After all, the Jackets entered Thursday night winners of three-straight, including a win in Anaheim – a place few opposing teams have success at.
Unfortunately for the silver-and-black, things did not get off to an auspicious start. Just 1:04 into the game, Tyler Toffoli took a hooking penalty and Columbus wasted little time taking advantage. Just 36 seconds into the power play, it was none other than former King Jack Johnson who snapped his fourth past Jonathan Quick to put the road side up early.
But for those skeptics who uttered, “Here we go again,” they were in for a pleasant surprise. Granted, if they were expecting an explosion of offense, they may have been a bit disappointed – but still.
Despite allowing the early goal, Jonathan Quick settled down and so did the Kings as a whole. While they are notorious for significantly outshooting their opponents in the early-going, the silver-and-black found themselves with a mere two shots against the Jackets while Columbus peppered Quick with 10. Despite the dominance, however, the Jackets only led by one goal after 20 minutes.
In the second, Columbus added 10 more shots to Quick’s workload but the Kings responded with 11. This time, however, it was Sergei Bobrovsky stealing the show in the Columbus net keeping the Kings off the board. In addition, Los Angeles had three power plays but could not capitalize on any of them. The Kings ended up a woeful 0-for-6 on the power play.
Columbus’s only power play in the second came with a bit of controversy as Kings captain Dustin Brown charged Ryan Murray, but appeared to leave his feet when doing so. Brown received two minutes, Murray was okay and the Jackets couldn’t score. It’s unclear whether the league will look into this yet but I doubt anything more will come of it. Then again, you never know.
In the third, the Jackets and Kings exchanged five shots each but it was home team who lit the lamp.
Despite the plethora of criticism he has received for his defensive play lately, defenseman Jake Muzzin redeemed himself in another way.
At the 3:09 mark of the third, Muzzin made a beeline for the net where he tipped in an Anze Kopitar shot to knot things up and bring Staples Center to life. The goal was Muzzin’s fourth with Drew Doughty picking up the second assist.
After both Quick and Bobrovsky kept the contest tied for the remainder of regulation, the game went into overtime and in the extra frame, the home team made sure their fans went home happy.
At the 2:33 mark of overtime, an unlikely source, Robyn Regehr, slapped a point shot past Bobrovsky to give Los Angeles the much-needed win. The goal was just Regehr’s second of the year but the timing could not have been any more opportune. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter picked up the assists on the winner. With that, Los Angeles’s four-game losing streak is history.
While it was a win the Kings needed, what impressed me most from the victory was how the silver-and-black once again showing their resilience, this time after a shaky start.
When the Jackets scored less than two minutes into the contest, worry filled the air of Staples Center. Not only did the Kings have another slow start but the usually-reliable Jonathan Quick looked like he was going to have a long night – but not so.
To Quick’s immense credit, he hung in there and kept the Jackets off the board. Given that No. 32 was chased from the net in Columbus 17 days earlier. If the hockey pundits thought Quick would be in for another rough outing after Jack Johnson opened the scoring, they were mistaken.
Whether it was the determination to enter the Olympic break on a high note, avenging their loss in Columbus two weeks ago or just being so sick of losing that they had to win, the Los Angeles Kings took the bull by the horns, stepping up when they had. Even better, no longer can teams classify a victory over the Blue Jackets as an easy win.
Overall, an ideal way to enter the Olympic break.