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LAst Night's Action: Kings Offense Wakes Up Just In Time
LA Kings defeat Atlanta Thrashers 3-1. There is no “o” in Kings, and yet again the Kings showed they have a hard time generating any for the first two periods trailing 1-0 to the Atlanta Thrashers heading into the second intermission. But suddenly they woke up scoring twice in three minutes to win their home opener 3-1 for the first time since the 2006-’07 season.
“I guess it was people committed to getting to the front of the net,” Captain Dustin Brown said about the turnaround in the third period. “If you want to score goals you’ve got to go the net. That’s something each individual player needs to take responsibility for.”
With Ryan Smyth struggling throughout training camp and the first two games being demoted by head coach Terry Murray to the second line, Smyth took responsibility having a hand in all three of the Kings’ goals.
After Justin Williams shot from point-blank off of Anze Kopitar’s pass from behind the net rebounded off of Thrashers’ goalie Chris Mason, Smyth swooped in for the goal 3:53 in the third period.
“They had one guy at the net and a scrum in front,” Mason said about the goal. “It went to Smyth and he just banged it in. Hard-working simple goal.”
A little more than two minutes later Smyth set the table for Jarret Stoll’s go-ahead goal, and he capped of the evening with an empty-netter with 30 seconds left in the game.
“It weighs on you a bit,” Smyth admitted about his dry spell. “If you’re not getting the chances, then you start to worry a little bit more. But I was getting the chances the last few games, but they weren’t going in for whatever reason.”
Smyth, with two goals and an assist, now has 158 career multi-point games.
Despite the struggles in the first two periods, Murray was optimistic about the Kings’ offensive attack.
“I thought we still needed to get better in the net presence or attitude as far as screening goaltenders in the second,” Murray said. “I think that came more in the third.”
It looked uneasy for a while as the Thrashers held the slim 22-21 shots-on-goal edge after two periods with the Kings missing 13 shots that either hit the post, the glass or a Thrasher.
Everyone at the sold-out STAPLES Center was convinced Wayne Simmonds’ 25-foot wrist shot was going to go in the net at the exact midway point of the first period. They were on their feet when they realized it clanged on the post.
“We’ve got to get our five-on-five game in order,” Murray said. “I think we’ve started to take the right steps here tonight.”
The Thrashers’ Chris Thorburn led off the scoring with an unassisted goal 2:26 in the second period putting the Kings in the hole for the third consecutive night. Both of the Kings’ wins this season have come when they were trailing after the second period.
Goalie Jonathan Quick saved 31 shots while Thrashers’ net-minder Mason saved 32.
Pac-12 Divisional Alignment. Stanford and Cal - those are the schools that are holding up the final announcement of the Pac-12 divisions. This much is known: The Washington and Oregon schools will be in one division while the Arizona schools along with USC and UCLA will be in the other. And so begins the tug-of-war for the Northern California schools.
The Northern schools want Stanford and Cal so they can keep a recruiting connection in California while UCLA and USC don’t want to break their rivalries with the Northern California schools. The trendy idea of “zippering” the conference - creating divisions by splitting the intrastate and intracity schools - has almost no chance of passing.
A decision on this should be made before the Pac-10 men’s basketball media day here in Los Angeles in the last week of October.
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