Kings Ice Flames in Shootout
What’s black and purple and as effective as a wet towel? If you answered the Kings power-play then you deserve a cookie. But for one sweet moment in the 73rd game of the season in their 2-1 shootout victory over the Calgary Flames, they executed it to almost-perfection.
“That was the best power-play we had all year,” head coach Terry Murray proclaimed. “That is exactly what we’ve been talking about, what we need to see on a regular basis.”
With 3:19 left in the second period after Flames captain Jarome Iginla was sent off for slashing, the Kings decided to move around in the zone and what, in what is perhaps a revolutionary concept in the power-play, got the puck to the net. In that two-minute span they racked two shots-on-goal, six missed shots and one blocked shot.
It was almost-perfection since they didn’t score after all.
“[Mikka] Kiprusoff was great,” Murray said of the Flames goaltender. “He’s a world-class goaltender, but they had a lot of defensemen digging in.”
The game was a typical Flames game with a stiff defense and nothing easy in the offensive zones. That is until the final six minutes of the game.
Wayne Simmonds with the puck around the net and to the boards got the puck to Brad Richardson at the top of the left circle. Richardson’s shot was saved by Flames goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff, but the rebound bounced to Jarret Stoll at the right circle who wristed the first goal of the game with 5:52 remaining in regulation.
“[Simmonds] does such good work down there, down low,” Stoll said. “He’s strong to the puck, moving his feet and found Richie [Richardson]. Richie had a good shot and I had a rebound.”
But as the Kings have tended to do during the season, the defense let up during a line change which allowed Olli Jokinen to get through a one-on-one situation and tie things up just a minute, five seconds later.
“We got spread out,” Murray said. “On a line change you’re supposed to stay nice and tight, compact, in the middle of the ice.”
And that led to the defensive breakdown.
“It’s a play that we’ve got to make,” Murray said. “That’s all there is to it. It should not come down to a one-on-one look like that unfortunately.”
The Kings got into even more trouble 3:57 into the five-minute overtime period when two players jumped on the ice when Rob Scuderi headed back to the bench resulting in a penalty. Fortunately the Kings managed to kill that off for their 35th consecutive penalty-kill and send the game into the shootout where Anze Kopitar with a little shake-and-bake move gently nudged the puck through the five-hole of Kiprusoff in the third round.
“Going in there I was looking and [Kiprusoff] covered the net pretty good,” Kopitar said. “I figured I would make him move, and the five-hole opened up so I slid it in there.”
“Kopitar, well, that was special,” Murray mused.
However Justin Williams left the ice in the second period with an upper body injury. He will meet with team doctors tomorrow to determine the severity of the injury.
But neither that nor the Kings allowing the Flames to get a point could completely damped the mood.
“That was a good hockey game,” Murray said. “That was 20 guys out there, 40 guys out there that put a heck of a performance on. That was intense, very playoff-like, and a lot of good things on both sides.”
Kopitar wasn’t too concerned with ceding a point in the game.
“Every win you get this time of the year is big. Obviously you don’t want to give them the point. But if that’s the way it’s going to go the rest of the way, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Phoenix Suns at LA Lakers. 7:30 p.m. TNT (National), FSWest (Local), AM 710 KSPN.