Game 13 (6-4-3)
LOS ANGELES - Should I start with the good or the bad? Let me start with the latter. The Los Angeles Kings opened the game on such a sour note. One issue they had in their previous game was that they took too many penalties in the opening period and tonight was a continuation of that.
Ethan Moreau took two undisciplined penalties early on. First, he drove Chris Kunitz into the boards from behind, which was a play, if you see on the replay, could have been avoided. Then, he slashed the glove of Evgeni Malkin, who didn't even need to be slashed mid-range as he was casually passing the puck cross-ice. Then, to add a little bad luck, Rob Scuderi got called with a delay of game penalty as he shot the puck into the mesh. At that point, the Kings had three of their men in the box and to their credit, they were able to kill off most of the disadvantage.
Steve Sullivan ultimately scored a late power-play marker that Jonathan Quick had no chance on. On the play, though, Kris Letang (who fed Sullivan for the goal) danced around Anze Kopitar who dove to the ice and struggled to get back to his feet. It was a rare mistake by the Slovenian but thankfully, he redeemed himself later on.
Having not scored a goal on home ice since October 22, the Kings and their fans were frustrated. But that ended as the aforementioned Kopitar took a shorrt pass from Justin Williams and went in alone to stymie Marc-Andre Fleury with a top-corner goal to get the Kings that all-elusive goal and tie the game. The home team was back with a vengeance.
After Mike Richards missed on a penalty shot in the third, the Kings kept the pressure coming and played arguably their best period of the season or, at least, in the last week or so. It was the top-line who struck again as Williams passed to Kopitar who then passed it to an open Simon Gagne who stuffed it in to give Los Angeles their first lead of the night.
The Kings then thought they extended their lead but to no avail as a Dustin Brown high-stick disallowed the goal and, just seconds later, Chris Kunitz came back and tied the game for the Penguins. It was deflating but to Los Angeles' credit, they played sound defensive hockey for the remainder of regulation and earned the point.
After an exciting overtime frame that saw the Kings continue to play well defensively and dominate in the offensive zone, no one could score. Then, in the shootout, although they looked better than their first appearance this season, the Kings did not have enough to rally against Pittsburgh as Chris Kunitz scored the shootout-winner, leaving the Kings with their fourth-straight loss.
More on my personal thoughts later but now the Kings will rest up tomorrow as they travel to San Jose to prepare for the Sharks on Monday night. This will be Los Angeles' first meeting of the season with a California rival. It should be a good one.
Photo: Courtesy of AP