Victor Fasth was neither: he wasn’t fast, and he wasn’t the victor. This has to be the most satisfying win so far this year. Trailing late in the 2nd period at 2-1, somebody needed to step up. That’s what Captains do, and that’s what our Captain did. Dustin Brown took a simple pass at center ice, entered the zone alone, and simply manufactured a wrist shot goal to tie the game.
Quick held the fort, or castle I guess, and the Ducks would never score again as the Kings piled in 4 unanswered goals to ugly the Ducklings and send them waddling home. The Ducks swam in our moat, but never nested on our grounds.
By stopping the Ducks streak at 6 wins in a row, the Kings barged into 7th place in the conference, and are now just 3 points behind 4th place Nashville with 3 games in hand. The Player X Ray shows lots of blue and some red, meaning many goals and the game-winner for our side.
First star of the game was Kopitar, but my Knight Of the Realm is Dustin Brown. Kopi had 3 assists, but only one shot on goal. His assist to Voynov was an obvious read to an open shooter at the top of the circle; the real talent on that goal was Voynov’s ability to one-time a puck. Kopi’s assist on Brown’s goal was a 5 foot pass at center ice after the Ducks had effectively stifled another rush; Brown made the goal, Kopi was on the ice. With 4 hits, 4 shots, and the goal that single-handedly gave the entire team life when they needed it the most, Brown turned the momentum and the game for the Kings.
The 1st period was fairly even, no scoring, with the Kings outshooting the Ducks slightly at 9-7, however it felt that the Ducks had the better chances and controlled the play a bit more. The Ducks were successful in disrupting the Kings breakout, with 2 forecheckers in deep and a third man shadowing the Kings center in a man-on-man coverage. The Kings struggled for any flow thru center for most of the 1st and 2nd period. Defensemen were making outlet passes too early, and the receiving forwards were effectively pressured and covered at center so the second passes were not there.
The adjustment was for the Kings defense to beat the first forechecker, then skate the puck out farther, waiting to draw pressure before passing the puck. By forcing coverage decisions at center ice, the defensemen for the Kings gave the Kings forwards just enough more room to take passes in stride and gain the Ducks zone.
The Ducks controlled play and were leading 2-1 thru the 2nd period, but toward the end of the 2nd the Kings adjustments began to pay off. The Kings finally found some life in the last 4 minutes, but were trading loose pucks in the crease with the Ducks. Neither team could cash in, until Brown took the Ducks defensive pair apart at 17:53.
Brown’s inspirational 2nd period goal was essentially a 1 on 2. Brown beat Allen crossing the blue line, then he faced Cam Fowler, who was in good position mid-ice. Brown made the play by shooting wrong-footed, stretching his stick around the defender’s feet to get it to net. Fasth waved at it, but the shot was too good and bounced off the crossbar down past the line. End of 2, Kings 2, Ducks 2.
Voynov had the game winner early in the 3rd period, and this goal actually started on a hustle play to avoid an icing. Who was the hustler? Dustin Penner, that’s who. At the end of his shift, Doughty sent a hard clearing pass cross-ice to Penner in the neutral zone, but it was wild and caromed into the Ducks zone. Penner forced Fasth to play the puck, and the icing was wiped out.
The Kings then stifled a Ducks rush, transitioned from their blue line and carried it into the Ducks zone. Williams was totally off the play but 2 defenders followed him to the net, leaving Voynov alone coming down from the right point. Brown won a boards battle, Kopi took the puck, circled the net and slid the feed to Voynov for a one-timer that drilled its way thru Fasth and trickled a full inch over the goal line. Slavaaaaaaaaa!! Kings lead, 3-2.
If Voynov doesn’t one-time that shot, it doesn’t go between 2 defenders for a goal, it gets blocked. And, if Penner doesn’t beat the Ducks to that wild clearing pass from Doughty, the play probably doesn’t happen at all.
The rest of the 3rd was effective hitting by the Kings, sending Ducks players head over heels, or is that beak over web… The Power Play continued to be effective, with Muzzin scoring to make it 4-2 on a no-look wrister just 1:37 after Voynov’s goal. The roast was on.
Carter’s empty netter followed some pressure by the Ducks, but the game was never in doubt, really, after Muzzin’s insurance goal. All in all, it had to be a team effort by the Kings, with 3 young defensemen facing what I would argue was their toughest test yet.
The Ducks are big on defense and speedy at forward; perhaps this contrast, or disparity, will become trouble over the course of the season for the Ducks, but they came in hot having won 6 in a row with the second-best point total in the league. For the Kings to allow the first goal, come from behind twice and win it going away shows that our young defensive corps is settling into the Kings system; don’t get rattled in your defensive zone, keep the up-ice pressure strong and trust your forwards to cover when you pinch.
Confidence was shown by Muzzin joining the rush and Drewiske jumping down low on possession cycles. Ellerby had a quiet game, but for him not being noticed means he was effective in the stopper role for limited minutes.
The Kings won the faceoffs battle at 41-24, yet had more giveaways at 12-9 due to that effective Ducks forecheck. Sutter composed the Power Play units using straight line combos; with only 2 chances the ice time was spread evenly among the Kopitar, Richards and Stoll lines. All 3 lines contributed offensively, with the Kopitar line leading the way, as it should be.
Knocking off the Ducks gave the Kings their own destiny, for now. With games in hand on all the playoff rivals, and a long stretch heavily favored with home games, the Kings can really solidify their playoff positioning thru March and going into the crucial last few weeks of the season. Next up is the Red Wings, and we owe them a little something, but if the Kings bring this kind of game every night it won’t matter who they are playing.