So, we had about 50 minutes of a defensive battle. Both teams did a good job of clogging up the neutral zone and forcing outside shots. Carolina impressed with their uncharacteristic physical play. Alec Martinez played a very good game which excites many of us. We have all been on the #FreeAlecMartinez bandwagon for some time now. In one instance, he was at the point and a pass was fired his way a bit too hard. This forced a turnover and a breakaway opportunity for the Canes. Martinez turned on the jets and managed to get alongside him to force the shot to one side of the crease and then freed up the puck with a diving poke check.
After about 50 minutes of both teams skating around, closing gaps, clogging up the neutral zone and generally playing towards a stalemate, Dwight King happened. I so rarely say anything positive about the guy that my fingers are attempting to betray me as I do so. King and Nolan both had a very impressive game which is an odd thing to say but there it is. Nolan especially had quite a few impressive plays. After a dump in into the offensive zone, he drove in hard into a body check to free up the puck. While the Canes’ defender was recovering, he spun and dug the puck out, quickly passing it behind the net to a friendly face. He was quick on his feet tonight and had great puck awareness and decision making ability.
Lindholm did end up leaving the game after a pretty hard check into the boards. He was holding his right arm and grimacing as he skated off. He’s a young kid and a rookie so I’m sure he’ll recover quickly.
Voynov is on Sutter’s bad side and is in the dog house. There was mention of his lack of fitness after the offseason during the game tonight. Seeing as we are talking about Voynov I’m sure that will change quickly.
Another huge aspect of tonight’s game was the faceoff circle. LA won 48 faceoffs to Carolina’s 22. Richards won 86% of his faceoffs tonight, Carter 73%, Kopi 70%, Lewis 67% and surprisingly Stoll only won 46% off his faceoff draws.
Willie Mitchell ended the game with a game high of 7 shot blocks. Frattin had a game high of 6 body checks. Doughty played his usual game high of 26 minutes, seconded by Kopi at 24 minutes. Carolina had two defenders that played 25 minutes but it is encouraging to see this type of fitness from two of our most crucial players.
This is the first game of our 4 game road trip and it was quite the encouragement. I would say this is the best game the boys have played this season. Breakouts were fast, defense was sharp (other than Regehr making a couple of flubs. He even managed to get caught on camera failing at spitting) and passes were clean and crisp for the most part. If we can continue on this trajectory a sweep of the road trip is not out of the question. Our next opponents are Florida (2-3-0), Tampa Bay (3-1-0), Nashville (1-3-0) on the road followed up by Dallas (2-1-0) at home next Saturday.
Drunk Talking Points
-This is the first time Jonathan Quick has ever played against the Hurricanes.
-Williams was one point away from his 500th point. It would have been great to see that happen against the team he won his first Stanley Cup with but alas, it was not in the cards.
-Tonight was the anniversary of Jim Fox’s first goal as a rookie with the Kings.
-Dwight King failed to make a goofy face after scoring a goal. This is unheard of. He probably was still trying to figure out how he did it. (Bah, I can’t help myself in spite of the fact that he played a great game)
-In true North Carolina fashion, the fan who got to ride on the Zamboni tonight was wearing a camo deer hunting hat. Let that sink in.
1-0 LAK- Dwight King on a shorthanded bid, unassisted
The Canes failed to pick up a pass and King was already skating towards the puck with some great momentum. He snatched up the puck and pulled off a Kopitar-like move with a quick forehand/backhand deke. This happened with only 6 and a half minutes left in the game.
1-1 CAR Skinner with assists by Sekera and Gerbe, powerplay goal
Only 40 seconds after King’s shorthanded goal, this happened. Very simple play. Gerbe fired an outside shot at Quick and it deflected deep. Sekera picked it up and fired another shot which set up a nice juicy rebound for Skinner to fire one into the back of the net.
Jonathan Quick earned himself the first star of the game. He stopped 28 of 29 shots, finishing the game with a save percentage of .964% If the past few games have gotten to him you wouldn’t know it by his play tonight. He was his normal aggressive self with quite a few Jedi like saves.
Cam Ward earned the second star of the game. He stopped 37 of 38 shots for a save percentage of .973% The one goal he gave up was a short handed goal where Dwight King managed to get a fast drive with a quick fake out.
Box Score, Stats for the Game
Shots: LAK 37, CAR 28
Scratches: Keaton Ellerby, Colin Fraser (scratched for Carcillo), and Jake Muzzin (scratched for Alec Martinez)
The lines were in fluid change and rotation again tonight which is no surprise. The Nolan/King/Stoll line seemed to be pretty effective tonight which is exciting to see.