Forget analysis. Here’s pure impression about what happened in LA on Monday night with Dallas in town. You decide at the end if what I saw corresponds to your stats-happy, super-fancy way of looking at the game.
First period. Jordan Nolan seemed like he was never off the ice. He was playing “up,” if you will—on a line with Dwight King and Nick Shore. I presume this is not the fourth line, since Kyle Clifford is not on it. No disrespect intended there.
Dallas played the whole period within a few feet of the net. Their goal, in fact, was from right in front. That was a product of the Kings’ mistakes—three guys had a chance at the puck behind the net. Those were Martinez, Muzzin, and Carter, who coughed it up to the crease, where Korpikoski gave it to Ritchie to bury. It was their seventh shot. The Kings also had seven.
Kopitar made the best backcheck I’ve seen yet this year. It was early on, and he glided back to his team’s slot to take one from Dallas on the backside, preventing a sure scoring chance
By the way, my impression that Nolan was being double-shifted is laughably wrong. He got 4:42 in period one, less than one-fourth of the ice time, all of which was played at even strength. Only the fourth line players, including the aforementioned Clifford plus Setoguchi and Nic Dowd, got less. Why he looked so visible is beyond me. Perhaps that’s why old-school eyesighting of players is giving away to statistical analysis, eh?
With all that said, are you sure you want to know what I saw in period two? I don’t actually care what you say to that, because I’m going to tell you anyway. Reader? Reader? Hello?
Second period. With friends like this, who needs enemies? I’m talking about Peter Budaj in the Kings’ net. He let in two goals, but man, was he left out to dry on the ice. Right off the opening faceoff, the whole right side of the ice was empty and the puck came to Patrick Eaves. Then there were several other tight chances.
Kopitar, of all people, is vulnerable to getting pickpocketed. He got the puck picked off him from behind in his own slot, and Sharp went in and forced Budaj to make a good glove save. Next thing, Seguin got a break on the left side and launched a long shot.
The Kings’ fourth line got going, the only trio on the ice to be doing anything. But that got Kopitar and Gaborik thinking, and they pressured Dallas for a shift, including several shots featuring one that Gaborik took. The Dallas goalie, Lehtonen, made a nice leg save.
The giveaway habit resurfaced midway through the frame when both Shore and Nolan gave the puck to Dallas on the same play. Seguin shot, the puck hit Budaj, then it bounced up and over him and floated into the net.
Goalies can touch the puck, but if they don’t get enough of it, it’s going in. This happened to Lehtonen on a shot by Nick Shore (puck touched his glove) and Budaj on one by Jamie Oleksiak (puck touched his pad).
If you’re Kyle Clifford, you shouldn’t fool around with the puck at the blueline. He got away with it once, launching a one-timer. But when it came back to him, he tried for a wrister and lost it. It went down the other way, a near break by Roussel. It didn’t result in a goal.
Period three. If you dare. As soon as the Kings got anything going, like, ah, a goal, they gave it right back. Not only did they see Dallas score 43 seconds after they’d gone to 3-2 on the power play, but the Dallas fourth goal was started by a Kings’ giveaway to Dallas’s Sharp. He fired it off the end boards, and it came to the front and was stared at by Martinez as Devon Shore scored.
But then again, the Kings came straight back and scored themselves to make it 4-3, Kopitar’s fourth of the year. Yeah, halfway through the season and the superstar is on pace for eight goals. Of course, he missed a few games. This was his 36th. OK, he’s on pace for ten.
Good things happen when you don’t shoot two feet over the net. Drew Doughty. He tied the game at 5:18 with a slapshot that went low into the net.
Low into the net, Drew. Low. Into. The. Net.
Sometimes you get what you don’t deserve. That would have been an LA win. But in the end, the hockey gods won out, and Dallas netted goal five, then empty-netted number six.
By the time it was over, both starting goalies had been pulled. At one point, with the score 5-4, it was possible that replacement Niemi could win the game without making a save. He ended up having to make one, and got the win. Fans got to see a royal tantrum by Lehtonen as he was pulled.
After a brief delay in which the message apparently sunk in, he slammed his stick against the goalpost to break it.
It didn’t break. Sometimes when things go bad, they just go all the way bad. He went to the bench, threw it over the boards, and was not seen again.
I’m no expert on Daryl Sutter’s moods, but I’m quite sure he’s not in a good one after this debacle. His team came close, as I said, but they were horrible in the defensive game, in all respects–that by defensemen, that by goalies, and that by forwards. Hard to believe that the official stats have the Stars giving the puck away 16 times to the Kings’ 10. No possible way that’s accurate. On the other hand, who knows. The Kings out-Corsi’d Dallas 64-44. And Budaj wasn’t that bad, so that don’t make no sense, either.