Game 36 (17-14-5)
LOS ANGELES – They hadn’t done it since November 22 but the Los Angeles finally scored more than two regulation goals in one game. They even added one more for good measure and it was key as it turned out to be the game-winner as the Kings improve to 3-0-1 in their last four and 2-0-1 with Darryl Sutter behind the bench.
Tonight’s win was a showcase of resilience for the home team. After Rob Scuderi’s first of the season opened the scoring, the Kings fell into bad habits from last season as they allowed the tying goal less than two minutes later as the unlikely source of Raffi Torres evened things up. The Kings, though, remained calm as later in the period, Brad Richardson tipped in a Slava Voynov point shot to regain the lead. The goal was just Richie’s second of the year.
There was only one goal scored in the second but, unfortunately for the Kings, it was the Coyotes who scored as Raffi Torres capitalized again to knot things up once again.
The third was a bit wilder as Willie Mitchell’s second regained the Los Angeles lead yet again less than two minutes into the period. Minutes later, captain Dustin Brown gave his team some much-needed insurance. The goal was Brown’s 150th of his career. Phoenix, however, came right back as Daymond Langkow’s fifth got his team back to within a goal just 33 seconds later.
The Coyotes certainly made things interesting but it wasn’t enough as the Kings held on and are now tied with Phoenix for 9th in the West, just one point out of a playoff spot.
The work in the special teams department was uneventful. The Kings killed off all three of their penalties but failed to score on either of their man-advantages.
Despite making 26 saves, Jonathan Quick wasn’t as great as he usually is but a win’s a win and both Quick and the Kings will gladly take the two points.
Los Angeles looks better with each passing game and tonight was no exception. Anze Kopitar led the way with a pair of assists and a +3 rating while guys like Brown and Doughty (who had an assist tonight) continue to play better hockey as of late. It was also a night of unsung heroes, so to speak, as Scuderi, Richardson and Willie Mitchell all scored, despite the three coming into tonight’s contest with a combined two goals on the season.
The Kings will now travel to the Midwest where they will start a mini two-game road swing. First, they will be in Chicago to take on the Blackhawks on Wednesday and Thursday in Winnipeg before closing out 2011 at home against Vancouver on New Year’s Eve.
Should be a barrel of monkeys!
Photo: Courtesy of Associated Press