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Kings' offense shoulders light roster, buries Vancouver

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings

– The Vancouver Canucks came into Saturday night’s bout with the league’s third-best offense, and with goaltender Ryan Miller, who leads the NHL in wins with 10.

The Kings flipped the switch on the Canucks at STAPLES Center, keeping Vancouver’s offense quiet, and chasing Ryan Miller from the game after two periods in their 5-1 win Saturday evening.

For the second straight game, the Kings were able to get on the board first, after surrendering the first tally to the opposition for six straight games.

The Kings didn’t just score first; they piled it on. With three first period goals, the Kings took complete control of the game early, in a contest where they only dressed 18 players: 13 forwards and five defensemen.

Getting such an early lead will help when playing with only five defensemen.

“I think we came out really strong,” Tyler Toffoli said following the win. “We just kept our feet moving, and kept getting pucks to the net, putting a lot of pressure on their defensemen.”

Marian Gaborik opened the scoring, potting his first goal of the season by chipping a rebound through traffic, giving the Kings a 1-0 lead just over nine minutes into the game. Gaborik followed up on an Alec Martinez shot from the point, locating and shoveling home the evening’s first goal.

Just under five minutes later, Jake Muzzin followed suit, also registering his first goal of the season. Muzzin received a pass from Tanner Pearson as he was left along atop the Vancouver zone. Upon handling the pass, Muzzin walked in and fired a quick snap shot that beat Ryan Miller high to the right side.

Muzzin, who recorded his first point of the season Thursday night against the New York Islanders, now has points in consecutive games (1G, 2A).

With less than two minutes remaining in the first period, Anze Kopitar buried what was undoubtedly the prettiest goal of the evening. Kopitar, who skated in on a great lead pass from Marian Gaborik, cruised in and beat Ryan Miller high to the left corner with a laser of a shot, giving the Kings a commanding 3-0 lead at the end of the first.

The Kings scored their first three goals on their first 10 shots of the night.

Tyler Toffoli, after going three games without a point, came back in a big way Saturday night, scoring the Kings’ fourth goal of the game midway through the second period.

Toffoli redirected an Alec Martinez shot from the point that couldn’t find it’s way past Ryan Miller, but he quickly pounced on the rebound, beating Vancouver’s goaltender with a quick backhander.

With his assist on Toffoli’s marker, Alec Martinez registered his third assist of the night, giving him an all-new career-high in points scored during a single game. Martinez now has five points in the previous five games (2G, 3A).

Toffoli finished the night with three points as well (1G, 2A), upping his season total to 17 (7G, 10A). He now has five multi-point games this season, which leads the Kings roster.

Vancouver’s Ryan Miller was replaced by backup goaltender Eddie Lack after the second period. Miller made 18 saves on 22 shots, and was hit with just his second loss of the season. Miller still leads the NHL with 10 wins.

In the third, Jeff Carter capped off the Kings’ offensive onslaught, wristing home the Kings’ fifth goal of the evening, beating Eddie Lack quite easily on a breakaway with a shot high to the left corner.

Carter’s goal, his sixth of the season, gave the Kings a 5-0 lead with 17:31 left to play in regulation.

The Canucks would find the scoreboard late, breaking Jonathan Quick’s shutout bid with 7:53 to play in the third when Chris Higgins one-timed a pass from former King Linden Vey past Quick.

That’s all the offense the Canucks could muster, the Kings finishing the evening with a 5-1 win.

Alec Martinez and Tyler Toffoli led all Kings players in points (3), Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and Tyler Toffoli in shots (4), Jake Muzzin in hits (4), Jake Muzzin in blocked shots (3), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (29:46). Jonathan Quick made 18 saves on 19 shots faced in what was his seventh win of the season.

The line of Toffoli (1G, 2A), Tanner Pearson (1G, 1A), and Jeff Carter (1G, 1A) combined for six points in the win. Six Kings players recorded multi-point games, it’s the first time a team has accomplished that feat this season in the NHL.

The Kings killed off all four of Vancouver’s power plays, they’re now 7-0-1 when they don’t allow the opposition a goal when shorthanded.

With the win, the Kings’ record improves to 8-4-3, and they now have an eight-game point streak on home ice at STAPLES Center (7-0-1). The Kings will be in Orange County on Wednesday night to take on the Anaheim Ducks before returning home for a four-game home stand. The puck is slated to drop at 7:30PM PT Wednesday night at Honda Center.

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