KINGS (5-5-2) 2, BLUE JACKETS (4-8-2) 1
STAPLES CENTER | LOS ANGELES, CA
For the first 58 minutes of tonight's game, the Blue Jackets had issues sustaining their attack in the offensive zone. They pushed hard in the last 120 seconds but could not get a second puck behind Jonathan Bernier, and the end result was a 2-1 defeat to the defending champion LA Kings at STAPLES Center.
How did this begin? Well, for both sides, it was a work in progress. With a few days off in between games and a bit of practice time sprinkled in, the rust showed early on. The Blue Jackets and Kings combined for 13 shots in the opening period and several of those were from the point and perimeter, and the best chance was a shot by Anze Kopitar that Sergei Bobrovsky was able to deflect into the corner.
But the Kings, masters of the second period so far this season, were true to form in the middle stanza. Kyle Clifford pounced on a Nikita Nikitin turnover late in the period and began a 2-on-1 break, elected the shoot the puck and beat Bobrovsky low glove-side for a 1-0 Kings lead. After some rough stuff at the second period buzzer, the Kings began the third period on a power play that would become a 5-on-3 just 48 seconds later.
Mike Richards scored the rare "5-on-3 goal off the rush" by banking a centering pass off Nikitin's skate and behind Bobrovsky, and gave Los Angeles a commanding 2-0 lead. Nick Foligno's second goal of the season drew the Blue Jackets within a goal -- and they really poured it on the final minute with the extra attacker on -- but the Kings held serve.
Richards' goal (and the penalties that preceded it) were the turning point tonight. Headed into the third period down just a goal, the Blue Jackets were in the ballpark, but having to kill off two straight penalties stunted their energy early in the third. The 2-0 goal coupled with not many chances for the Blue Jackets made it a tough hill to climb the rest of the way.
- Artem Anisimov took a puck off the ankle and did not return, but Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said tests showed no broken foot. His status for tomorrow's game in Phoenix has yet to be determined.
- Brandon Dubinsky played 21:15 tonight and was a reliable guy in all situations yet again. He was a big presence when Anisimov left the game and had a couple of chances to tie it up in the closing minutes.
- Thought Jack Johnson and Adrian Aucoin paired well together in the absence of James Wisniewski, who is back in Columbus awaiting the birth of his first child. Johnson played nearly 25 minutes in his first game back at STAPLES Center since being traded last year and helped set up Foligno's goal in the third period.
at Phoenix Coyotes
Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV: FOX Sports Ohio (HD)
Radio: 97.1 FM & BlueJackets.com