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LAst Night's Action: Kings Reenergized in Overtime Win Over Avs
Despite blowing the lead with ten seconds left in regulation, the Kings attacked on a 4-on-3 power play 3:40 in overtime to defeat the Colorado Avalanche 4-3. Quick saved 19 shots while Ryan Smyth reemerged from the shadows scoring two goals to lead the Kings, his first goals since March 2 at Dallas and his first two-goal game since November 2 at Phoenix.
“We both wanted the two points,” defenseman Drew Doughty said after scoring the game winner in overtime.
Both teams did indeed need the two points as the Avs came into the game a point behind the Kings in the standings. And the Kings came out with a renewed vigor that had been missing in the last several games.
“I’m pleased with the win,” head coach Terry Murray said. “We showed some of that mentality that you have to have this time of the year on a pretty consistent basis.”
“Tonight we played desperate,” left winger Ryan Smyth said. “We wanted to win.”
However it was the Avs who took advantage of a Kings defensive miscue to draw first blood 7:14 in the game. The Avs Chris Stewart hit a wrist shot close to the blue line that was deflected into the net by Kings left winger Fredric Modin.
But Smyth responded minutes later at 9:51 with the first of his two goals tipping in the puck to tie the game.
“[Smyth] had a good game,” Murray said. “He bounced back here and had a solid game against his old teammates.
“His resume is built around the net. That’s why we wanted to make the deal for him in the offseason.”
The big story again for the Kings was their five penalty kills. They have now killed 29 straight penalties and 38 of their last 40.
“The guys have really worked hard [on the penalty kill],” Murray said. “The penalty killers are playing with the desperation, blocking shots. The goal tending has been very good.
“And a lot of communication. There’s been good talk on the ice, and that’s a critical part of killing penalties.”
Wayne Simmonds was tenacious with the puck and gave the Kings their first lead 15:41 in the second period on a wraparound goal from an assist by Anze Kopitar and Brad Richardson.
The Avs were able to take advantage of bad defensive positioning by Randy Jones and Matt Greene early in the third period which allowed Peter Mueller to score the tying goal 4:54 in the third period.
“The heavy play still needs to improve,” Murray said of the defense. “Some of the plays that they were making you have to make sure you’re going to eliminate those.”
But they made up for it with their tenacity on the offensive end with Smyth scoring his second goal of the game 9:55 on an assist by Justin Williams, his first point since December 15 at Edmonton.
“This is probably his better game since he’s come back from the injury,” Murray said of Williams. “He was more involved emotionally. He had his legs going skating very well trying to make plays.”
While the Kings did a good job of trying to kill the puck and protect the lead down the stretch, they slipped up at the very end. With ten seconds left in the game the Kings allowed TJ Galiardi to tie the game up and send the game to overtime.
“We cannot be letting those goals go in late in the game like that,” Doughty said. “The last minute of every period is really important, especially the third period.”
But the Kings sucked it up and got it together in overtime not allowing Colorado to take a shot in the period. After a Ruslan Salei cross checking penalty, the Kings took a time out to diagram a play. Doughty 19 seconds later slapped the winning goal from outside.
“We drew up the play on the board, and we scored before we had to do the play,” Doughty said. “It was important to get that timeout and get re-energized.
“Bang the net, crash the net, that is what we did and thank god we scored.”
“If I actually told you what the play was drawn up on the board, you’d be upset at him shooting the puck,” Murray said about Doughty’s improvisation skills. “He read the play. That was not the designed play we talked about, but it was a great read on his part.”
One spot of concern was goalie Jonathan Quick’s puck handling which became apparent 8:49 in the first period. Quick took control of the puck in the trap and looked to pass it. However the puck landed squarely on Galiardi’s stick who had a point blank shot into the empty net. Inexplicably he missed the shot wider than a Buffalo Bills place kicker from the 90’s.
“Quick’s a good puck handler,” Murray said in defense of Quick. “He’s one of the top guys in the league I think. What they did with their forecheck pressure really made him make a perfect decision.”
The Kings will now head to Colorado to finish off the home-and-home series on Wednesday and travel to St. Louis for a game against the Blues before coming back to Staples on Saturday for an evening game with Dallas.
“Two points at this time is what you’ve got to do,” Murray said. “You’re trying to get yourself into the playoffs, and there are so many big games in front of us. You just want to try to get some separation if you can.”
I decided to take a little looksie at the NBA standings since it’s a foregone conclusion that the Lakers barring a huge letdown with get home court advantage throughout the Western Conference playoffs. Just for fun I took a peek at the Eastern Conference standings and saw that the New York Knicks were in 10th place in the conference with a 25-45 record. A 25-45 record! Mind you that that is one game worse than the Clippers and their 26-44 record who have absolutely no hope of coming anywhere near the playoffs - even with a ten-foot pole.
This has me thinking: apart from the two championships in 1970 and 1973 and their defensive slugging teams in the 90s, exactly why are the Knicks relevant?
LA Clippers at Dallas Mavericks. 5:30 pm FS Prime Ticket, AM 980 KFWB.
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