In a battle with the second best team in the western conference at this time, the Kings knew their game vs. Dallas would be tough The Stars were in first place for most of the season and only a recent slump since the start of the new year and Chicago winning 12 straight games has put them behind them. Dallas is led be 2015 scoring champion Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin with 56 and 53 points respectively. Other key players are vets Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp who they acquired this year from the Blackhawks as a free agent. They have some fine roll players, goalie experience with Anti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen sharing the responsibility with the latter playing vs. the Kings. John Klingberg is one of the league leaders for points by a defenseman.
Meanwhile, The Kings are coming off a disappointing home lose to Ottawa giving up 4 goals in the third period after leading 3-1. They are still 10 points up in the division and playing very well as of late. Toffoli leads the team in goals with 22 and Kopitar leads in overall points with 38. Kopitar also just signed a long extension with the team. This team is resilient and confident playing great defense and Quick has been fabulous in goal with a 25-10 record and 2.10 goals against average.
A wild first period with Dallas scoring early with Hemsky beating Quick as he was left wide open on the left hand side. Then Lecavalier fired a laser shot in the upper net to tie the score and Doughty gave LA the lead with a blast. Then the Kings fell asleep and gave up the tying goal in the last minute of the period. After a scoreless second period, the Kings came out strong and determined in the 3rd. It was back and forth with many great scoring chances but Milan Lucic had the loan goal in the final period to give the Kings a 3-2 win in this big game. Sutter put Lecavalier in as the team’s second-line center, moving Jeff Carter to wing with that grouping.
Lucic talked about how the team has been playing well together. “We did a good job on the forecheck. It was a heavy game and get the game winning goal. It was a 5 man cylce on the winning goal as we are very confident. “ About Vinny Lecavalier “ Coaches have put a position to succeed. It wasn’t really going for him in Philly and he is making the most of it in LA and we are happy to have him as he has been rejuvenated.”
I interviewed Doughty and asked him if there was any strategy with containing their big first line of Benn, Spezza and Seguin. He said” I was out there a lot against them tonight and it was either me, Marty [Alec Martinez] or Muzz [Jake Muzzin] against them and that’s how you’re going to shut them down. Have good D-men against them.”
It was great to bounce back after the tough game vs Ottawa. They had some chances in the third but we played well overall.”
About the team’s confidence after the late second period goal by Dallas. “ A lot of chatter in the room and don’t worry about that goal as it was a fluke.”
What else can the team improve on, “We have a lot of skill and we need to bare down and bury more pucks. “
I asked Coach Sutter the same question and he said, “We tried not to play on the wrong side of the puck, and made sure we were on top of plays and on the puck. They are going to get their chances, and they had lots of them tonight. We just finished playing Anaheim, and coming into that game they were the lowest scoring team that we play and Dallas tonight is the highest scoring team. The way we play is that we have to play our style, and then we have a chance.”
We have lots to improve on as a team but I don’t have to tell you everything”
Lindy Ruff- “We missed the mark. Both goalies had to make some great saves.
On the team’s recent struggles “If our big boys are not on the score sheet, it makes it tough. We knew it was going to be a lower scoring game.”
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