|Michal Handzus scored two power-play goals on Monday night on a power play that is clicking for Los Angeles.
Through the first three games of the Western Conference quarterfinal series between the Los Angeles Kings and the Vancouver Canucks, a trend seems to be firmly entrenched.
Whenever a Vancouver player goes to the penalty box, more often than not a Los Angeles goal follows.
Monday night was no different. Entering the game with four goals on nine power plays, the Kings scored three more en route to a 5-3 victory over the Canucks before a standing room-only crowd of 18,264 at STAPLES Center, and a 2-1 series lead.
With a perfect three power-play goals on three chances, the Kings are now 7-of-12 on the power play in the series, and have scored just three goals at even-strength in the series.
With such a high amount of success in the first three games of the series, it would seem easy for Kings coach Terry Murray to say that the Kings have the Vancouver penalty-kill a little rattled.
Not so fast.
"I can't answer that question," Murray said. "I don't know from their side of it, but I know from our side of it, were moving the puck very crisply. We got traffic, we got shots, we got good chemistry going right now and we're having good results because of that."
Kings forward Michal Handzus scored two of the power-play goals, which were also his first two goals of the series. The first one broke a 1-1 tie 4:06 into the second period on a rebound off a shot by Kings defenseman Jack Johnson.
Handzus second came a little over eight minutes later, knocking in a shot that bounced off Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo from close-range to give the Kings a 3-1 lead.
"Outstanding game," said Murray on his assessment of Handzus."He was not just strength. That's his game. He digs in in those situations, he loves the challenge, he knows before the game what his role is going to be, and he's played it for many years.
While Handzus received a great deal of praise following the game, and deservedly so, there was plenty of it for the way Johnson and Doughty performed on the power play unit. Each defenseman notched three assists on the night, tying a Kings playoff record for most assists by a defenseman in a game.
With a goal, the Kings first of the game which brought the score even at 1-1 in the first period Doughty totaled four points, which also tied a Kings playoff record for a defenseman.
"There's no secret to it at all," Johnson said. "We're just taking what's given. Drew and I, especially at the top, we need to try to be able to create things for the forwards. If we had a chance to shoot, we did. If one of us couldn't shoot, just keep moving it around, and we just kept moving. One thing we didn't want to do was stand still.
Since Johnson has moved into the No. 1 power play unit for the Kings, the team is a scorching five-of-six on the power-play.
"I think a big part of the success now is because of what their doing on the back end," Murray said. "I'm big on having the activity start from the blue-line, and when you have a player like Doughty and Johnson, they can move across the blue-line and backwards in a passing-shooting position as well as anyone in the league."
On the other side of it, Luongo has had a difficult time stopping many of the Kings chances with a man advantage. Luongo was pulled from the game in the second period in favor of Andrew Raycroft after stopping 12 of 16 shots.
"We have trouble (killing penalties) right now," Luongo said. "It might be something we need to address tomorrow. Everybody knows what we've got to do on the ice; it's just a matter of executing it. Sometimes when we're hesitant things (like that) tend to happen."
Doughty said that through watching film and practicing on what they see, the Kings have been able to pinpoint and capitalize on some of the Canucks weaknesses in the penalty kill.
However, Doughty does not expect it to be this easy moving forward.
"We definitely found a few of their weaknesses, but now that they know that we found it, they're probably going to straighten those out," Doughty said. "So next game it could be a different story."
As for now, with two defensemen on the blue-line who can skate well and shoot the puck with tremendous efficiency making for a potent power-play, Murray is one happy coach.
"It gives you a real weapon actually from that part of it and it's a power play that when you see these people, these kinds of players, move through the blue-line like that," Murray said. "It's a very dangerous weapon."