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LAst Night's Action: Kings Rebound in Ugly Win Against Islanders

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It wasn’t pretty by any means, but the Kings managed to rebound after a disastrous shutout to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday to shutout the desperate New York Islanders 1-0.

And these were two points the Kings desperately needed. Clinging onto sixth place in the Western Conference coming into the game, a 1-0 overtime win by the Nashville Predators over the Columbus Blue Jackets could have dropped the Kings to seventh place had they lost.

But with the Colorado Avalanche idle since Wednesday, the Kings vaulted a point ahead and now hang on to fifth place.

“It’s two points, everybody keeps winning in this conference,” head coach Terry Murray said after the game. “I’ve been saying this right from the start of the year that it’s going to be a race right down to the very end.”

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As the Kings have been stumbling along the past several weeks, Murray decided to make changes to the four lines to try and spark some offense.

“The desperation that was shown here from the very beginning was good,” Murray said. “I liked what was going on with the four lines to get some flow and everybody digging in to do their part here tonight.”

From the outset the Kings looked to be quicker to the puck winning the loose pucks and played with a lot more intensity than they showed against the Blackhawks on Thursday. They had some great scoring chances throughout the period and were rewarded at 13:35 with Brad Richardson’s 11th goal of the season on a Wayne Simmonds assist.

But in the second period the Islanders woke up. The Kings were outshot 12-7 and lost the faceoff battle 11-6 despite the Islanders having played Friday night in Anaheim. However goalie Jonathan Quick made some excellent saves that allowed the Kings to hang on to a 1-0 lead.

“The first ten minutes of the second period was pretty even,” Islanders head coach Scott Gordon said. “After that we had a territorial edge and the better of the chances.”

“You have to give Jonathan Quick a lot of credit,” Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson said. “Every good shot we had, Jonathan made a great save.”

The big story of the game was the Kings penalty killing. They allowed only five shots on goal while down a man and extended their streak to 24 straight killed penalties dating back to March 4 at Nashville.

“There was four penalty kills, and they had a lot of time in our zone,” Murray said. “Penalty killing is largely due to the success of goaltender, and he was very alert.”

The penalty killing helped mask the horror of the offense.

“We still got a little ways to go on the offensive part getting pucks to the net and getting there at the same time,” Richardson said. “Our goal is to shoot the puck as much as we can, get traffic to the net and just be simple with it. We’re trying to get to that 30-shot plateau.”

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Just in case the players forgot that idea of shooting as much as possible, the Staples Center faithful gleefully implored the team to be aggressive and “Shoooooooooot,” especially on the power play.

“We’re not out of the woods, but there is some light out there,” Murray said. “We need to get back at it again tomorrow with a good practice and get ready for the next game.”

The Kings will face the Colorado Avalanche at home Monday night. From here on out the Kings will be playing against Western Conference opponents.

“A lot of important games coming up here,” Quick said. “We’ve just got to bring our best.”

Notable Notes

  • And the upsets continue to rain down from the heavens. In what should have effectively destroyed most peoples’ brackets, the big loser was overall top seed Kansas going down to nine-seed Northern Iowa Panthers. Two-seed Villanova also decided to join most of their Big East brethren by losing to 10-seed St. Mary’s. The interesting game was 11-seed Washington beating three-seed New Mexico Lobos. While the seeding indicates it was an upset, the money in Vegas had the Lobos as the underdog. With the field left in disarray, I say fuck it. Anyone ready for a Northern Iowa-St. Mary’s final?
  • The Washington Nationals sent wunderkind pitching franchise savior Stephen Strasburg down to Double-A Harrisburg to work on his mechanics from the stretch. Strasburg has a tendency of being too quick when pitching from the stretch resulting in decreased velocity in his pitches. While everyone in our nation’s capital is awaiting the San Diego State product to play some major league ball, if he gets his mechanics down pat it is not outside the realm of possibility of seeing him pitch this season. Perhaps the Dodgers will see him the first weekend of August when the Nationals are in town?
  • And speaking of pitchers being sent down to the minor leagues, the Dodgers sent James McDonald to minor league camp. After getting bombed the San Diego Padres for six earned runs in 1 1/3 innings Friday night, the Dodgers saw enough. McDonald will be used solely out of the bullpen so he can work out kinks like throwing the ball in the strike zone.

Tonight’s Action

Sacramento Kings at LA Clippers. 12:30 pm FS Prime Ticket, AM 980 KFWB.

Washington Wizards at LA Lakers. 6:30 pm FSWest, AM 710 KSPN.

Colorado Avalanche at Anaheim Ducks. 5:00 pm FS Prime Ticket, AM 830 KLAA.