Kings Exorcise Devils, Kovi in 3-1 Victory
After a grueling five-game road trip played in seven days, the Kings hosted the NHL version of LeBron James, Ilya Kovalchuk, beating him down and the New Jersey Devils 3-1.
“I’m very pleased by the fact that we came back [from the road trip] and got two points,” Kings’ Head Coach Terry Murray said. “It was a very hard game for us. Coming back after a long road trip it’s hard emotionally and mentally to get yourself getting. And physically you’re tired to begin with. I liked the way we dug in.”
The formula for the Kings’ success was in full action during the game. The Kings made the most of their opportunities in the first two periods while goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped nearly everything that came his way.
“It was a weird game,” forward Jarret Stoll said. “It wasn’t too much of a flow game - it was a lot of neutral zone stuff. We were okay.”
Easy for Stoll to say since he had his hand in all three Kings’ goals.
Early in the first period Ryan Smyth led a three-on-two breakout with quick passes to Stoll then Justin Williams got the puck past Devils’ goalie Martin Brodeur at 6:52.
They added a power-play goal on their first opportunity thanks to Brodeur being un-Brodeur-like and bobbling the puck on Stoll’s shot from the top of the left faceoff circle allowing Michal Handzus to tap in the hot puck past Brodeur 9:32 in the first period.
The Devils quickly responded a minute later with Matt Taormina’s goal from the blue line.
“It was a bit of a screen,” Quick said. “But he was pretty high out. I kind of wish I had that one back. But it happens. The team responded. We came back and scored a big goal after that and able to shut them down throughout the rest of the game.”
Undeterred, Jarret Stoll tracked down a rebound 24 seconds later from a missed shot by Rob Scuderi that went behind the net and landed in the left faceoff circle.
“That was a great response, a much needed response,” Murray said. “He knows that as a second line center iceman, the secondary scoring is very important. One of the strengths that Stoll has is shooting the puck and carrying the puck with speed. We want him to take advantage of that shooting ability more often.”
The second part of the formula was most essential in the third period as the Devils were really giving it to Quick throwing 20 shots to the net. However Quick stopped them all preserving the two-goal lead and the two points for the Kings.
“It might look like I’m getting a lot of work, but a lot of them were from the perimeter. I was able to see a ton of them. The guys did a great job picking up guys and clearing out lanes. The ones I wasn’t able to control I was able to get the rebounds and get them to the corner.”
The Kings with 16 points have the best record in the NHL, something Murray isn’t dismissive of.
“It has meaning,” Murray said. “Your goal is to win hockey games, and it’s nice that we’re putting some points on the board in the early part of the season.
“We get off to a really good start last year and it paid off for us - there is always going to be a lull some time and you have to have that cushion to fall back on. It’s good to see we’re off to that same start again this season, although I don’t want to take that same step backwards like we did last year.”
Throughout the night the sold-out STAPLES Center crowd booed Ilya Kovalchuk, who came close to being a King during the free agency period, each time he took the ice and handled the puck. However the Kings weren’t concerned with it.
“There are five guys on the ice and any one of them are capable of scoring,” Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick said. “Obviously you want to pay a little bit more attention to him, but you don’t want to sell the other guys short because that’s when it bites you in the rear.”
Quick had 39 saves for the win while Brodeur made 20 saves.