The LA Kings were at home vs the rival Vancouver Canucks in a crucial game as the playoffs approach soon. LA got off to to a good start with Marian Gaborik scoring early in the second period on a power play. Jonathan Quick looked unbeatable as the Kings were pretty much dominating until a fantastic tip in goal by former Duck Nick Bonino on a pass from Radim Vrbata. It was 1-1 after 2 periods and the Kings still looked like they were controlling the game. That is until some bad penalties to put them in a hole and turn the game around. Drew Doughty took an awful slashing penalty and Tyler Toffoli got a 5 minute major and game misconduct for boarding disliked Alexandre Burrows one minute later. Vancouver quickly took advantage of the 5-3 with leading scorer Vrabata netting one past Quick to make it 2-1. LA had a couple really good chances to tie it but couldn’t convert on a breakaway and another close shot before Vancouver scored 2 empty net goals to make the final 4-1 in a much closer game than the score dictated. Eddie Lack played well in goal for the Canucks, who are in second place in the division behind the Ducks. They still have the Sedin twins and a balanced team this year heading into the playoffs.
I asked Coach Sutter and a couple of the players including Dustin Brown and Gabroik if the team had lost their discipline. It was a tough question in that moment as Doughty’s slashing call was terrible followed up by a rough hit. Sutter said , “ There was no lack of discipline” but I thought it was clearly opposite. This is the way the Kings won on their way to their first Stanley Cup 3 years ago as all the teams lost their discipline in the playoffs taking bad penalties and committing foolish plays in the playoffs vs Los Angeles. He also said, “We played pretty well. Now it is time to set the clock for the 3 games in N.Y. where we cannot complain about the scheduling” I asked if he had any thoughts of changing any lines and he said, “No. It is tough without Stolliin the lineup and the young guys are not scoring. We have guys who have played 20-something games, and we are in the stretch part and they have got one or no goals.” Stoll has missed 4 games but is riding the bike so the team hopes to have him back soon. They will also recall Mike Richards from the minors for this upcoming road trip.
I asked Gabroik his thoughts on the game and he said, “You cannot win when you only score one goal.” Dustin Brown commented when I asked about the discipline saying “I am ok if it hard penalties as we have a good penalty killing team. This was a big game and it was not easy with the 5-3 situation. We had our opportunities and now are going on the road so taking it one game at a time. Our confidence hasn’t wavered and we control our own destiny.” It sounded like he nor anyone wanted to admit the lack of discipline or bad penalties that basically lost the game for the team taking the high road but that is what did them in. They are very close to the last playoff spot so this trip is huge. More at www.lakings.com