OTTAWA – There was a message sent in the Kings’ dressing room during the first intermission Thursday night at the Canadian Tire Centre. Whatever it was, and whomever it was from, it piggybacked the club to a 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators.
The locker room intervention was due to another languid first period performance, where the Kings didn’t fire away for a single shot through the first 10 minutes of play. Jonathan Quick bailed his team out as the Senators came out flying, registering 14 first period shots compared to the Kings’ five.
Quick, in a stellar personal first period performance, made arguably his best save of the season when he robbed Ottawa’s Alex Chiasson of a golden scoring opportunity.
“He’s got so many highlight-reel saves that it’s tough to keep track,” Muzzin said of Quick’s first period save. “That was definitely a huge save for our club to keep us in the game in the first period and not let them get the first goal and get momentum. Big play by Quickie to keep us in the game.”
The Kings were fortunate the game remained scoreless after the opening frame; it was the second period where they awoke, registering the first five shots of the frame as they established control of the game.
“I mean, I think there were two or three times during the game where we had good responses,” Darryl Sutter said following the win. “After the first period we did, I think after that [shorthanded] goal we did, after they scored where Cliffy breaks his stick, we scored the empty net goal. It’s not clear sailing or easy sailing.”
On an offensive zone faceoff just over a minute into the second, Jeff Carter won the draw back to defenseman Matt Greene. Greene, with a lane into traffic, fired a slap shot that caromed its way past Ottawa’s Craig Anderson. Greene’s goal, his second of the season, gave the Kings a 1-0 lead.
Midway through the second period, Jake Muzzin fed a cross-ice stretch-pass to a streaking Justin Williams. Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson attempted to intercept the feed, but missed, allowing Williams to walk in alone on Anderson.
As Williams was approaching to take his shot, Ottawa’s defense was quickly approaching to cut off his angle. Cody Ceci got into Williams’ shooting lane, but not with the results he wanted. Williams’ shot deflected off of Ceci’s stick and through the legs of Anderson to give the Kings a 2-0 lead midway through the game.
With just under six minutes to play in the second, Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan got the Senators on the board with what will surely be a candidate for the NHL’s goal of the year. Ryan stickhandled through three Kings’ defensemen, and then fooled Jonathan Quick with a backhand move to get the ball rolling for the Senators.
Entering the third period with a 2-1 lead, the Kings quickly went on a power play after Erik Condra was called for tripping Jake Muzzin. Ottawa, after winning a faceoff in their own zone, iced the puck, but the Kings were unable to clear their zone due to heavy forechecking from Ottawa forward Mark Stone.
Stone disrupted the Kings’ breakout attempt, David Legwand held the puck in and fired a wrist shot toward the net, where Stone was stationed, and the Ottawa forward chipped the rebound past Quick to tie the score 2-2.
For the Kings, it was the first shorthanded goal they have surrendered all season.
With time still remaining on their power play, the Kings went right back to work after Stone’s equalizer.
Anze Kopitar, with control of the puck atop Ottawa’s zone, fed a pass across the point to Drew Doughty on the left side, then immediately drove toward the net. Doughty, reading Kopitar’s movement, delivered a perfect pass to Kopitar as he fled toward the net. Kopitar, who had Craig Anderson off-balance upon receiving Doughty’s pass, utilized patience to sneak a backhand shot past Ottawa’s goaltender.
Kopitar’s goal, his sixth of the season and his first in 10 games, reclaimed a 3-2 lead for the Kings just :36 seconds after the Senators tied the game.
Trevor Lewis added to the Kings’ lead, potting the club’s fourth goal of the evening less than two minutes after Kopitar’s goal.
Tyler Toffoli set up Lewis’ marker by dismantling Ottawa’s defense when he slowed down the play during their three-on-two sequence. Toffoli, who saw Lewis set up on the back-door, delivered a short pass which Lewis chipped high to the top-shelf past Anderson. Lewis’ goal gave the Kings a 4-2 lead with just under 16 minutes left to play in regulation time.
Jake Muzzin, with the secondary assist on Lewis’ goal, recorded his third helper of the night, which is a new career-high for the Kings’ defenseman. Muzzin now has 14 points (1G, 13A) in the last 16 games.
“I’m just trying to produce where I can and help the guys win,” Muzzin said of his three-point performance. “I made some passes today and all of the guys did the work really, and I just collected.”
The Senators pulled goalie Craig Anderson with just over a minute to play for an extra attacker. The Kings had difficulties clearing their zone, and Ottawa’s Jared Cowen beat Jonathan Quick with a wrist shot that deflected off the stick of Drew Doughty.
Cowen’s goal brought the score to 4-3, but Tanner Pearson struck for an empty net goal with :57 seconds remaining to give the Kings a 5-3 lead – the night’s eventual final score.
Jake Muzzin led all Kings players in points scored (3A = 3), Trevor Lewis in shots taken (5), Matt Greene in hits delivered (4), Jake Muzzin in shots blocked (4), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (26:56). Jonathan Quick made 32 saves in the win.
With the win, the Kings’ record improves to 15-9-5, and their record away from STAPLES Center jumps to 4-5-4. The Kings will play the third game of their five-game road trip Friday night against the Montreal Canadians at the Bell Centre. The puck is slated to drop at 4:30PM PT.
*REPORTING FROM EL SEGUNDO, CA