Kings Overcome Injuries, Chase Panthers For Victory
Sometimes a team loses in the long run despite winning a particular game. Thanks to injuries to Willie Mitchell and Mike Richards in the game, the Kings look like the losers on the ice despite their 2-1 victory over the rarely seen Florida Panthers.
Mitchell sustained a lower body injury in the first period while Richards received an elbow to the head by Sean Bergenheim late in the second period. When asked if there is a possibility of losing both players for an extended period of time, head coach Terry Murray replied, “I hope not.” However Murray also said that with the team doctors being busy during the game, he doesn’t have the reports on the players and will update their status for Friday’s practice.
But in the context of this game where two reliable penalty killers were gone, the Kings did step up and get the job done. Goalie Jonathan Quick saved a season-high 41 shots though he continued to deflect praise towards the defense.
“They really stepped up huge here,” Quick noted. “That’s a big hole on the blue line that we lost for the majority of the game. Guys played big minutes and played them well.”
One player that has been stepping up huge is Captain Dustin Brown. Playing on the left wing, he got the game winner on the power-play on a great two-line pass from Slava Voynov. Incidentally Quick got his sixth career assist on the play. Brown also had two near goals: a point-blank shot that required a great save by Panthers’ goalie Jose Theodore earlier in the second period and a shot that just hit the crossbar early in the third period.
But being the captain, Brown recognized the team as a whole didn’t play well.
“Tonight we didn’t have our best game,” he said. “We’ve got to be better prepared for Montreal [on Saturday]. I don’t know what it was tonight. We just weren’t on our game.”
Panthers’ head coach Kevin Dineen knew the score.
“We thoroughly outplayed them. They were trying to run around and chase us and hack us and slash us. When you are getting outplayed as badly as they were, that’s the response.”
It’s true. After 12 minutes in the second period, the Panthers had outshot the Kings by a 10-1 margin. Seven of those shots occurred during a three minute, 26 second duration of penalty-kill, 34 seconds of which the Panthers had the two-man advantage. The Kings ceded nothing thanks to Quick.
As defenseman Jack Johnson put it: “He’s been awesome. We’ve been winning games being an offensively challenged team, and it’s mainly because of him.”
Johnson though seemed to carry on the momentum of Monday’s “shot mentality” game with a goal on the Kings’ second shot just 1:35 in the game. He just took the shot from behind the left circle that flutter past Theodore.
“I just kind of dropped the shoulder hoping the guy in front of me would go one way or the other, and I got a lucky break,” Johnson said. “It hit the guy in front and it was about time we got a lucky bounce as a team. Hopefully we can get a few more here and score some more goals.”
And that’s what it comes down to: scoring more goals. However if the Kings lose Mitchell and Richards for an extended period of time there will be trouble.
“Those are two big pieces to our team,” Brown said ominously. But then we get back to the player speak. “It’s an opportunity for guys to step up and fill a void.”
Understandably Murray didn’t want to head into that territory tonight.
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