Game 29; 18-7-4
ANAHEIM - While Ben Scrivens did play the previous night, Los Angeles Kings fans were shocked by the news on Tuesday morning that rookie Martin Jones was scheduled to make his NHL debut that evening. To say that most of those fans, yours truly included, were reluctant with the decision would be a vast understatement. While Jones was expected to play sooner or later, it was perplexing to think why he would be thrown into the fire against one of the league’s best teams in their building where they have yet to lose in regulation. Nevertheless, Jones made his debut in Anaheim – and he did not disappoint.
With an untested goaltender in enemy territory, the Kings knew they had to work a little harder in helping out their backstop.
In the first period, Los Angeles got off to a fast start. While it was scoreless through the first 20 minutes, the Kings did outshoot the Ducks 16-6 giving Martin Jones as much breathing room as he needed. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, it was Anaheim’s goaltender who was making the early difference as Jonas Hiller was unfazed by the barrage of shots in the first.
The Kings continued the domination in the second by outshooting the Ducks by a 20-11 margin. Fortunately, they were able to get a result as at the 7:05 mark of the middle frame, Jeff Carter wristed his seventh of the year past Hiller to put the Kings out in front. The goal was unassisted. Unfortunately for the Kings, the Ducks wasted little time equalizing as, just 46 seconds later, Hampus Lindholm shot at Martin Jones who made the save but bounced up and behind the rookie. With the puck in mid-air, Ryan Getzlaf pounced on it slapping the biscuit into the net for his 14th. Just like that, the game was tied.
Early in the third, Anaheim found themselves on the power play and took advantage. At the 2:14 mark, Corey Perry backhanded his 16th past Jones to put the silver-and-black behind the 8-ball. But this contest was far from over.
In a period that was more even than the previous two (each team registered 10 shots), neither team had ample opportunity to put this game away as both Jones and Hiller were masterful in their respective nets.
As dominant as Hiller was though, he couldn’t keep the Ducks lead intact as, at 5:43 of the third, captain Dustin Brown took a pass from Jarret Stoll and wristed it the Swiss backstop for his fifth on the campaign. Again, the game was tied – and it stayed that way until the shootout.
After an overtime session where the Kings outshot Anaheim 5-1, both teams entered the shootout hoping to end the game early. But that wasn’t how it was going to end.
If Jones and Hiller were good during regulation, they were even better in the shootout.
After both netminders traded saves early on, it was all of a sudden scoreless through eight rounds of play. But in the ninth, something gave as Dwight King scored stick-side on Hiller to give Los Angeles the lead. Mathieu Perreault needed to score to extend the session but it wasn’t to be as Martin Jones made the save to give the Kings the hard-earned win and, just as importantly, pick up his first-career win in his first-career game against the hated (but dangerous) Ducks at the Honda Center where they have dominated thus far.
The Ducks still may not have a regulation loss at the Honda Center this season but no one in Los Angeles seems to care about that, nor do they mind that the Ducks picked up a point to remain one point ahead of their crosstown rivals. What matters most is the win in addition to the outstanding debut of Jones.
Jonas Hiller may have been the busier of the two netminders on this night but Martin Jones was just as fierce making 26 saves (a bit more if you include the saves he made in the shootout).
Like I had already mentioned, I was admittedly reluctant when I heard the news of Los Angeles’s decision to start Jones but I have come to have faith in most decisions head coach Darryl Sutter makes. He may not be right all of the time (which coach is?) but he has an excellent track record nonetheless and it showed on Tuesday night as Jones was able to shine while, in the process, giving Ben Scrivens a much-needed night off – and against the Ducks in Anaheim. That sounds like a storybook debut to me.
With the excitement of the last two nights, however, the Los Angeles Kings will slow down a bit as they don’t play again until Saturday when they host the New York Islanders.