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The Key Three: Dec. 19

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Three key aspects of the Kings’ 3-2 shootout victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs...

Have there ever been two more different games than the ones the Kings played in Detroit and Toronto? In Detroit on Saturday, they looked completely off-page from the start, distracted and listless, and got steamrolled by a disciplined, sharp Red Wings squad. Monday’s game marked a near-complete turnaround. The Maple Leafs weren’t pushovers, either. They were fast and aggressive, but the Kings were attentive and tenacious. They cycled the puck with acumen rarely seen this season, they fought for loose pucks and they had no drop-off in intensity after Toronto tied the game early in the third period.

When the Kings needed him most, captain Dustin Brown was there. The difference between a 2-2 road trip and a 1-3 road trip was enormous and, particularly after the Kings’ dreadful effort in Detroit two nights earlier, they needed a strong game and they needed a leader. Brown played more than 23 minutes. He scored a huge second-period power-play goal. He recorded team-highs with six shots on goal and five hits. Then, after three Toronto shooters and two Kings shooters had been stopped in the shootout, Brown blistered a wrist shot that went off the crossbar and in. A week’s worth of frustration came out in that shot.

One had to wonder what the psyche of goalie Jonathan Quick would be like, just 48 hours after he had been pulled from a game for the first time this season. Would Quick be shaky, or would he come out with a fiery, competitive attitude and be sharp? For the most part, it was clearly the latter. Quick got beat twice, on a well-placed, skilled slap shot and by a perfectly executed back-door play, but otherwise Quick did everything he needed to do, as he made 31 saves. As usual, Quick was sharp in the shootout as well. He looked calm and prepared in net, and his alert poke-check save helped set up Brown’s shootout winner.
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