Systems. That was the buzz-word among the players in this game. Colin Fraser said it in his interview, Drew Doughty said it in his interview, Dustin Brown said it twice in his interview, and Keaton Ellerby said it three times in his interview at the bench during the 2nd period. This synchronicity carried through to the ice as the Kings executed those systems to perfection, and demonstrated the dominance of Championship form.
The Flames had times where their game was effective, but no extended time of possession and shots, shift over shift. What qualified as a “push” from the Calgarites was closer to just even play with the Kings. Depth was on display as all 4 lines for the Kings mounted potent attacks, and held off the Flames for their second victory in a row and a season sweep.
Los Angeles now holds 4th place, solidly, with 30 points and 3 games in hand against 5th place Detroit at 29 points, and with 14 wins against 6th place Vancouver holding 28 points. Minnesota has overtaken the Canucks for their Division lead, and with just 11 wins the Canucks would need 3 points to lead the Kings due to the Kings advantage in wins for the standings tiebreaker. Also with 28 points are San Jose with an equal number of games played as the Kings but only 11 wins, and St. Louis with 13 wins but the Kings having a game in hand on them.
For the second time in a row against Calgary, Sutter continued to forego the “all-star” Power Play format and just iced the Kopitar line, again using not-Doughty Slava Voynov in a custom pairing with not-Doughty Jake Muzzin. Not surprisingly, then, Slava Voynov continued to play the dominant role among the defensemen; his primary assist to Brown was a repeat of the play against Calgary where Brown took a duplicate pass from Voynov, but passed it to Carter for a tap-in.
The similarities were not limited to just the pass: in both games (1) the Flames took just one penalty the entire game, (2) it was within the first 6 minutes of the 1st period, (3) Voynov passed from the right-side faceoff dot to Brown at the left-side post, and (4) the Kings scored on the Power Play to take a 1-0 lead.
Speaking of repeats, Dustin Brown opened the scoring and closed the scoring. His early Power Play goal stood as the game-winner until Calgary’s late goal at 14:38 of the 3rd. Then, with under a minute to play, full possession in the Calgary zone and an empty net, Brown looked to be trying to get the puck to Doughty, but Doughty was still behind the play and Kopi was open for a pass. Kopi directed the puck toward the net, Williams deflected it into a ring-around that ended up with Doughty at the right point.
Doughty fired a shot hoping for his first goal of the year, but it was blocked by Jay Bouwmeester. A rushed pass from the Flames was grabbed by Brown, again at the right point, and his shot got through to give the Kings a 2-goal lead with 26 second left, and the victory was signed, sealed and delivered. That’s what Brown can do for you.
Stoll would get the game winner off a silky pass from Muzzin, after Muzzin held the point and faked his guy and stepped forward, past that guy and then another, to take two men and then deliver the puck to Stoll alone in the low slot. Stoll looked like his shoot-out self and sent a bullet to the top corner.
The Penalty Kill finally had a very good night, stopping all 4 Power Plays including 27 seconds of a 5 on 3 against when Doughty’s hooking penalty was added to Mike Richards’ same infraction. Stoll, who had limped to the bench earlier in the Richards kill from a blocked shot off the knee, returned as the only forward and made a diving clear following up on a takeaway by Voynov down low.
This effort was just what the Kings needed, in so many ways. The big guns fired, Penner and his linemates were dangerous with every puck possession, Quick was reliable when tested while facing few quality shots, but most importantly some very solid systems work with everyone playing very well, within their roles, including the least experienced and least familiar young defensemen.
Sutter was able to spread the ice-time, and his team must now be completely confident in their game, going into the second half of the season. They next face the Coyotes, bringing their 8-2 record over the last 10 games against the Coyotes record of 5-4-1. Phoenix will look to take advantage of a night off while the Kings played and then traveled, but a tired Kings team is still better than a rested Coyotes team, as long as the Kings stick together, and stick to their systems.