The LA Kings have struggled as of late but are still in the playoff hunt. Darcy Kuemper started as goalie taking 170 scoreless minutes into the game and outplaying starting goalie Quick this year. The offense has sputtered for the most part with Kopitar leading the way with 20 goals and 55 points. Good news is that Jeff Carter has started skating again. They defeated Edmonton 5-2 in a much closer game than the score indicated in front of a full house at Staples Center.
LA got off to a good start with Kyle Clifford scoring in the first minute of the game and then Kemp taking a pass from Doughty in the first minute of the second period to make it 2-0. Then the Kings lost focus taking 3 penalties in a row. The first one by defense-man Gravel shooting the puck over the boards in his own zone cost them when McDavid fed Leon Draisaitl scored on a wrist shot for his 14th goal of the season. Not long after, McDavid collided with one of his teammates. While the crowd got a kick out of it, ex-King Cammelleri picked up the puck and made a nice pass to McDavid who took on Doughty one on one break and scored to tie it 2-2.
Finally in the 3rd period, things turned around as Paul LaDue (1-0=1) scored the second goal of his career (first PPG). Both of his career goals have been the game-winning goals). The Kings got 2 empty net goals to put it away. The Oilers have underachieved this season with high hopes and one of the best players in the league but have been a big disappointment so far and are quite a bit out of the playoff picture at this time with the season coming down the home stretch.
Ladue said, “ It felt unbelievable to get that goal in the 3rd. We came out strong and it paid off and it is great motivation. We have been winning. We have to keep it rolling and get into the playoff spot. I didn’t think it was a big deal when the refs were going over the review replay.”
Coach John Stevens,’”The game had a few different personalities letting them back in the second period. At the end of the day, we took care of the game before going on the road. I think you need 2 goaltenders. We had a few breaks to juggle time and keep guys sharp. We have 2 goalies that we like and need. Both goals Pauly scored, he went down to Ontario and gained more confidence. Went down with the right attitude. The posts were a good friend of ours tonight.”
I asked him about the strategy about slowing McDavid down. “There are a couple guys in the league like him and Crosby that are special players. You try to take his space away but it seems like he can skate forever. He is a great player and difficult to defend and Kopi and Drew have challenges vs. him.”
Our back to backs have been very good this year. 2 big games on the road and we will need contributions from everyone with 14 healthy forwards and all the defense-man.”
Clifford who scored the first goal of the game. “We talked about coming out and being prepared to play. We have a 7 game game road trip coming up. Every game is different. We check hard and get pucks to the net.” I asked him it seemed like there was a lapse in the second period and he said, “ There are going to be ups and downs during the game so we be battled through it and we were focused on playing a full 60 minutes. “
Kings winning goalie Darcy Kuemper. “ I thought we did a good job in our defensive zone. We gave them a couple power plays. We gave up the lead and then got ahead in the third period. They made some good plays doing the best I can to make a few saves. The guys did a good job stopping those passes. We didn’t really let them back in our zone and we did a great job and I was thinking about the 2 points and not the streak. McDavid made me look silly as he went 5 hole as I was looking high glove on his goal to tie it up.”.
In the post game interviews, McDavid said about the start- “Sometimes we are fast and sometimes we are sluggish and we came up a little short at the end. The power play is a momentum swing for us. 100% onto the next game”.
His linemate Leon Draisaitl said, “We were not ready for it at the start. We have had that problem a lot chasing the game this season. I think that we have been working on our power play but it hasn’t been as good as we wanted it to be this year. We have 3 hard games so we need to be ready for our next game.”
Coach Todd McLellan said, “I thought we started slow with the first shot. We have been through this too many times this year. We did a much better job in the second. The third it was anybody’s game with some posts to posts. I was hoping this game 2 weeks ago and it went against us with the review. That is a very clear that we cannot keep going down in the game early. It just cannot happen this many times this season.”