After a 1-0 win against the Rangers, a 2-0 win over the Devils and a 3-2 win over the Islanders, the LA Kings conquered all three New York City area teams.
With both the Rangers and the Kings coming off of road wins, they entered Sunday night’s contest on a high note. The Rangers returned home to Madison Square Garden with a 1-0 win from the night before over the Montreal Canadiens, while the Kings came off of a 2-0 win over the Devils on Friday night.
With Jonathan Quick injured, Ben Scrivens has been in net for the LA Kings. After Sunday’s win, Scrivens took over three of the top goaltending stats in the NHL. He leads the league with a GAA of 1.24, save % of .955 and 3 shutouts this season. He is 4-1-1 this season. Not bad, considering three of his four wins were shutouts. The NHL named him first star of the week following the NYC area hat trick.
Sunday’s game saw only one lone goal from LA’s Tyler Toffoli at 1:23 in the second period. He got one in on an unlucky bounce off of a Rangers’ defenseman’s skate. The Rangers outshot the Kings 37-30 but were never able to get past the Kings defensive play or Scrivens.
The Rangers had three chances on the power play in the middle period, but were unable to generate a goal when they saw three back to back penalties from the Kings. They knew going into this match that special teams would make the difference. They failed in that part.
“I thought we were a little bit inconsistent at times,” Ryan Callahan said after the game. “We had our chances. We had our opportunities…a couple of [power plays] in the second there. You got to see as a whole we played well, but at the same time, you’ve got to find a way to try to get one in there.”
“We talked about going into this game it’s going to be an ugly one,” Henrik Lundqvist said. “They play really tight. It’s a small battle.
“One big thing though, going into this game, we said special teams would be a big part of this game and it was, but not in our favor.”
The Rangers power play unit was spread out too far. They passed the puck more than they shot the puck. Chris Kreider was not in front of the power play unit. The list can go on with what went wrong with the Rangers power play unit. The Rangers are currently ranked 18th in the league on the power play with a 17.4% success rate. They are 12-69.
But you have to give credit where credit is due. The Kings played an amazing defensive system against the Rangers. The Devils couldn’t beat it on Friday and the Rangers couldn’t beat it either.
The Kings leave little opportunity for garbage goals. Defensemen lay in the crease to prevent it. That’s like two or more guys in the crease protecting the net versus just one guy.
Offensively, they have guys like Daniel Carcillo getting under the skin of the defenseman in front of Lundqvist’s net. He is literally able to get an altercation or shoving match going that the defenseman loses ground, becomes tangled up with Carcillo and then leaves the net wide open for a forward to see only Lundqvist defending the net.
Carcillo is able to take one defenseman out of the equation. He didn’t just do that on Sunday night, he did the same thing on Friday night.
The defensive and offensive plays for the Kings beat all three NYC area teams. Yet, they were all the same plays and strategy applied in each game. The Rangers walked into this game ill prepared to face the LA Kings. The Kings didn’t change their game plan at all…and that was a winning formula for them, even if the goal came off of a lucky deflection (unlucky for the Rangers). That’s all it takes.
Luckily, the Rangers won’t face the Kings again during the regular season.
“Overall, if you’re going to evaluate the last couple of games down the stretch here,” Callahan said. “We’re getting better. We’re starting to play the way we need to and we’re getting rewarded for that.”
In the second period, Derek Dorsett was hit hard with the puck after taking a slapshot to the chest from Ryan McDonagh. He returned to the ice on his next shift, citing after the game that he was sore, nothing else.
Brandon Mashinter, who was a scratch in Sunday’s contest, was returned to the Rangers’ AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, on Monday.
Rick Nash is expected to return to the NYR lineup at some point this week, but Mashinter’s return to the AHL has nothing to do with Nash’s possible return.