Another Four-Goal Third Period Saves the Kings
I honestly don't know what to say. The Kings had no business beating the St. Blues tonight. But there they stood on the ice after 60 minutes having won the game 6-4 in a manic four-goal third period comeback.
"We got away with one tonight," Anze Kopitar said with an added sigh of relief. "We didn't have the best start. Not the best second period. But when you get four goals in the third that helps a lot."
In the last two days the Kings have scored eight goals in the third period while scoring only three in the other two periods.
The game started as a rhythmless affair until midway through the first period when the Blues decided to exact their revenge over being swept in the second round of the playoffs last season. Barret Jackman faced off against Colin Fraser. After the ensuing faceoff, Roman Polak got TKO-ed by Kyle Clifford. Chris Stewart was called for slashing during the next faceoff. The Dustin Penner and David Perron got in on the action.
It was quite an exciting couple of minutes right there, but the Kings should not have played partner to the Blues tomfoolery.
"We don't want to get pushed around, and our guys did a really good job of not getting pushed around," Kopitar defended. "It builds up a little energy on the bench, and we definitely used it."
Unfortunately for the Kings it was Alex Pietrangelo who got the scoring started with a heavy assist to Slava Voynov's skate. Jake Muzzin quickly answered back 43 seconds later.
After Dwight Kings and Ryan Reaves exchanged dance tickets, Vladimir Sobotka gave the Blues the lead for good to close out the scoring in the first period.
Any thoughts of the Kings coming back in this one was eliminated as they were caught chasing the puck and losing all of the battles on the boards. David Perron and Chris Stewart all but cemented the game for the Blues early in the second period. It looked like their first period stategy worked like a charm.
Jonathan Bernier, who came into the game on a five game winning streak, was pulled after Perron's goal having surrendered three goals on eight shots.
"I planned on splitting them so it seemed the right time to do it," Kings head coach Darryl Sutter joked about pulling Bernier in favor of Quick.
Trailing 4-1 early in the second period, the rest of the game seemed a mere formality. I was ready to write a story about all of the doubts I had of the Kings even making the playoffs much less defending their Stanley Cup championship.
Then it happened. Slava Voynov gave the Kings some hope with a goal late in the second.
"The second goal gave them the momentum," Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Then that third period happened.
"We came out firing," Kopitar said. "We said after the second that we were going to throw everything at them. We did. It worked out."
Mike Richards got the Kings to within a goal in the second minute of the third. Muzzin tied the game less than a minute later on a bad angle shot outside the left circle, his second goal of the game. Jeff Carter blasted a shot from the left circle for the go-ahead goal at 6:09. Kopitar added an insurance goal with just under six minutes left.
It was remarkable to watch the tide of the game physically change. Gone was the team chasing the puck around to no avail. All of a sudden the Kings became that team they were in May and June of last year. Just like that.
"We've got to convert the third periods into starts of the game and we should be fine," Kopitar said. Easier said than done, but Muzzin said that their mindset makes it easier to handle.
"We believe in here," Muzzin stated. "We may not have the greatest start. They had a lot of momentum early, let's be honest. We were pouting a little bit, but we stayed with it. We've got the skill, we've got the confidence in here."
Muzzin must have believed everything he said. With his assist on Carter's goal, he had his first three-point game of his career.
"I was trying my best to win a hockey game," Muzzin downplayed. "That's what I'm focused on. I'm trying to stay in the lineup and be a key part of the team."
Just for perspective, Drew Doughty has yet to score a goal this season.
There is concern that the Kings can look downright awful at times for long stretches of the game. At some point the Kings cannot rely on scoring four goals in the third period to pull out victories. But in the short term, the wins still count in the standings which has the Kings fourth in the Western Conference after being in the cellar at times this season.
We've seen the Kings being able to turn things around seemingly in a blink of an eye to play some pretty extraordinary hockey. Like I wrote yesterday, perhaps this will be a turning point. We'll see on Thursday against the Dallas Stars after taking tomorrow off.
The best summary of the game came from Hitchcock: "We had them by the short ones, and we let them off the hook." It's not quite Dennis Green, but it will work.