The LA Kings took on the division leading Vegas Golden Knights in front of a sell out standing room crowd at Staples Center. Dustin Brown was honored with his family before the game for his 1000th game played and it was very inspiring and emotional. It was an exciting close game and could have gone either way but David Perron beat Jonathon Quick in overtime for the 3-2 victory. That put them up by 4 points over the Kings in the standings. Vegas looked impressive especially after playing the night before in a win at Anaheim. They did not look tired at all and have bonded in their first year together as an expansion team.
Mark-Andre Fleury played very well in goal as he came from Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the expansion draft along with other key players James Neal, Reilly Smith, Erik Haula, William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault (all with over 20 points this season). The team has great chemistry under head coach Gerard Gallant and this is no fluke as they play hard and are talented.
The Kings did not play a good game especially after the first period. Marion Gaborik tipped home the first goal of the game and it stayed that way till late in the second period when Marchessault tied it. Going into the 3rd period, Quick was assessed a misconduct penalty for arguing at the end of the second period and moments later, Doughty was called for boarding. The Kings killed off the 2 man advantage but lost the lead when Brendan Leipsic put them ahead. LA started to pressure and scramble and only when Jake Muzzin found a seam while defenseman Deryk Engelland made a mistake leaving to get another stick since his broke. Muzzin made a nice pass to Doughty who re-directed it to tie the score 2-2. Both teams had earlier chances in OT including Adrian Kempe who out-skated his counter to come in front all alone but Fleury stoned him. Perron scored the game winner minutes later. After the game, there was an incredible laser/fireworks show right on the ice.
Post game interviews with Kopitar and Doughty. Kopitar said, “3rd period was the only period we shed light. The desparation level went up. You can expect to win games with the effort and the ways we were making plays. It was embarrassing. The penalty killing was the best part of our game and Quicky. The effort level really has to go up.” I asked him if he was surprised about Vegas after they played the night before. He said, “No, they are top of the West for a reason and I was not surprised. We were the reason we lost. “
I asked Doughty It seemed you were upset with the penalty call. He said, “With my hit, I didn’t think I hit him from behind. He could have been right. I was frustrated as it put us down 5-3.” “We were not making plays and not playing calm or with confidence especially in the second period.” I then asked him if they had the advantage with Vegas playing the night before. He said, “They had the advantage tonight after 3 days off. A lot of time you feel better on the second of a back to back. The fatigue can set it but it just happens. Is there a psycological advantage knowing they played the night before? He said “ We were always talking they played last night. Mentally you have to buckle down.”
Muzzin said “ We had some chances in OT and they didn’t go in. It was a close game. Without out goalie, I don’t think we would be in OT but we will take a point. 2 competitive teams playing against each other. I found the seam on my goal and knew they had a broken stick on the assist to Drew. I saw a lane and thew it into him”.
Coach Stevens said “My take is we had a good start to the hockey game. We had a good first period and then totally went off track. Probably one of the most disappointing games this year in terms of not trying to establish a game plan, lot of east-west plays, lot of frustration towards the referees instead of ourselves. Spent too much time in our zone from the end of the first period on, just because of the mismatch going to the puck. There’s going to be mistakes in the game of hockey. The intention to play the game the right way wasn’t there, especially in the second period against a team that played last night, so we started chasing the game a little bit. Disappointing.”
Perron of Vegas said- “It is always fun to beat Quick and he is my favorite goalie to score on even though it doesn’t happen that much. I thought we outplayed and outshot them as we were the better team tonight. We got the 2 points tonight. We just keep playing our game and tonight was one of the bigger games of the year. We have to keep working hard to stay in first place. The bond has been really well with our team and we are playing for the whole city.” I asked him if they didn’t feel fatigued at all. He said “ Yesterday I felt terrible but today I felt awesome. We skate every day.”
Marc Andre Fluery – “It was a fun overtime and it is great to be part of this team and organization.” I asked him how the team has bonded so well. He said, “It is not common. I was a bit worried about as we were all in the same boat with everyone coming from different teams. We have a great staff, coaches and it is fun to come to the rink. It has helped us gain success. It usually takes a bit of time. How have you done it so fast. We don’t have any big superstars. We have a good team and need everyone to win. Different guys shine and it is a great team effort.” I asked him if he was surprised how well the team has done. “ I am surprised and a lot of fun people.”