Game 22; 15-6-1
LOS ANGELES – For the first time this season, the Los Angeles Kings were going after their fourth-straight win. Yet despite returning home, they were up against a Tampa Bay Lightning team who had convincingly beaten them just over a month ago.
Even though they are without the services of Steven Stamkos, the Bolts had shown little sign of struggling since the wunderkind’s injury back on November 11. After all, the Lightning still had veteran Martin St. Louis who was only on a personal hot streak entering Staples Center on Tuesday but scored twice in Tampa’s win over the Kings on October 15. Tuesday night also marked St. Louis’s 1,000th-career game.
But Tuesday wasn’t about Martin St. Louis or the Tampa Bay Lightning. Instead, the Kings set the tone early and attacked often as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the Bolts were able to muster a goal.
At 14:58 of the opening period, Anze Kopitar got things started as he wristed his sixth past Ben Bishop to give the home side the lead. Drew Doughty and Justin Williams assisted on the goal. But the Kings weren’t done there.
Less than two minutes later and on the power play, the Kings struck again as Matt Frattin potted his second of the year from Slava Voynov and Jarret Stoll to put the silver-and-black up by a pair heading into the first intermission.
Just 2:38 into the second, Justin Williams added to the fun backhanding his eight past Bishop to put the Kings up by three. Drew Doughty picked up his second helper of the night while Kopitar notched his second point of the evening with his assist. That would be all the scoring until later in the period.
In the latter half of the second, the Kings found themselves shorthanded after a high-stick to the aforementioned Martin St. Louis invoked a four-minute double-minor. While it looked to be a golden opportunity for the Bolts to get back in the game, the Kings instead padded their lead as Dwight King’s shorthanded marker added to his career-high in goals with seven with Linden Vey notching the assist.
However, just 1:11 after King made it 4-0, the Lightning were able to capitalize on the man-advantage as defenseman Victor Hedman fed Valtteri Filppula fired his ninth up and over Ben Scrivens to put Tampa Bay on the board.
Unfortunately with the goal, Ben Scrivens had to see his shutout streak end at 191 minutes and 19 seconds – quite a feat for a netminder thrust into the spotlight to relieve an injured Jonathan Quick.
Nevertheless, the Kings were not fazed as just 58 seconds after Filppula’s goal, Dustin Brown scored his fourth from Matt Frattin to regain the four-goal lead.
Victor Hedman scored at the 1:22 mark of the third but it was far too little, far too late as the Lightning were simply no match for the explosive Kings on this night, losing 5-2.
For the last two games, goaltending was front-and-center topic for the Kings. On Tuesday, while Scrivens not only saw his shutout streak end but only made 19 saves, it was the Los Angeles offense that took over making the most of their 31 shots on Ben Bishop, who shut the door on the Kings just over a month earlier.
Aside from Linden Vey’s lone assist, the trio of youngsters – or as Kings’ colour analyst Jim Fox calls them, “Manchester United” – were uncharacteristically quiet on this night. Again, it didn’t matter as the rest of the Kings picked up the slack, earning a much-deserved two points while winning four-straight for the first time this season.
Overall, a very positive evening for the Los Angeles Kings who really seemed to do everything right. Even allowing a power play goal is easy to overlook considering they scored a shorthanded tally only moments before.
The Kings are off on Wednesday where they will get set to prepare to host the New Jersey Devils on Thursday. The silver-and-black will hope to extend their winning streak to five while sweeping the season series with their 2012 Cup Final opponents.