Kings Torch the Capitals
If you were to believe ESPN, the BCS and the folks who live in the South, then you would believe the Kings were the best team in the NHL. Like the two SEC teams fighting for the Mythical Championship in college football, the Kings have a pretty stout defense and are stunted on offense. As I have exhaustingly said almost each time I write about the Kings, they are the worst goal scoring team in the NHL. They’re even worse than the New York Islanders and the Anaheim Ducks. But the Kings bucked the offense-deficient trend trouncing the Washington Capitals 5-2.
It didn’t start rosy for the Kings though. Despite having a couple of early scoring chances early, Mike Knuble got a hold of a long rebound starting a two-on-one rush the other way. Knuble dished off to Marcus Jonhansson and simply beat backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier for the game’s first score 1:34 into the game.
For the next ten minutes, the Caps did whatever they wanted to the Kings. They shoved the Kings away from the puck, made that extra hit. It looked like the Caps were going to make it ugly, like it was going to go the way of the LSU-Alabama game: a celebration of devolution and everything backwoods. But I guess you can’t expect much more from the South. The South certainly did rise up again in that game, like a festering stench along the bayous along the I-10 in Louisiana. I don’t care who won that game, because no one won with that game. We are all losers for having been subjected to that mess.
But back to hockey. Given the way the Kings have been scoring lately, they looked destined for another 1-0 loss. And college football wouldn’t save any of us on this night. Even the sold out crowd seemed apprehensive to what was going on.
The turning point came in the middle of the first period when Kyle Clifford tied the game with all hell breaking loose out in front of Cap’s goalie Tomas Vokoun. It was all Kings after that culminating when Anze Kopitar stripped Brooks Laich of the puck in the slot which was officially credited to Dustin Brown. Kopitar deflected Brown’s shot into the net with 34 seconds left in the period for his 150th career goal, and the Kings had the 2-1 lead. Stunned was probably the word for the crowd who had witnessed two actual real-life goals by the Kings, but they started to come alive booing every time Alexander Ovechkin had the puck.
Amazingly enough it didn’t stop there. Clifford led a three-on-one break, dishing the puck to Jack Johnson who made it 3-1 Kings 3:01 in the second period complete with a Tebow-ing.
“We were going hard to the net, so it was nice to get rewarded,” Clifford remarked.
As for the celebration, Johnson said it was more of a dare over the weekend by some buddies of his. “I was watching the Broncos game with some buddies that flew in from Michigan and they said that if you score, you have to ‘Tebow’. I said, ‘You’re on,’” Johnson said.
Head coach Darryl Sutter didn’t have any complaints. “If we could all play like Tebow in a big game, then we would have lost a game yet.” I will just keep my mouth shut on that one.
The syrup on the pancake came from Dustin Penner charging hard to the net allowing Jarret Stoll to crash the crease and get the lonely inert puck past Vokoun 16:27 in the second. Further proof Penner’s back was feeling all right came in the third period when his work in front of the net helped Justin Williams score the fifth goal for the Kings though he didn’t get an assist on that score.
The onslaught was so spectacular the Caps pulled Vokoun in the third period in favor of backup Michal Neuvirth. For once it was nice to see a Kings’ goalie have an easy go of it. In fact Bernier only saw 22 shots against a team that has been known to light up the lamps.
“It’s a great feeling to get our goalie some breathing room finally,” Johnson said.
It’s only one game, and one game does not an offensive juggernaut make. Nevertheless all seemed to be uplifted by the five goals scored.
“It was good for the guys,” Sutter said. “We got [scoring] from all the lines.”
Well hopefully they can continue this kind of performance.
LA Clippers at Portland Trail Blazers. 7:00 p.m. FS Prime Ticket, AM 980 KFWB.
Phoenix Suns at LA Lakers. 7:30 p.m. FSWest, AM 710 KSPN.
Dallas Stars at Anaheim Ducks. 7:00 p.m. KDOC, AM 830 KLAA.