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The Key Three: Feb. 7

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Three key aspects of the Kings’ 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning...

Don’t plan the homecoming parade for the Kings’ offense just yet. The three-goal effort came against a Tampa Bay team that has allowed the most goals per game in the NHL this season. Still, things have to start somewhere, and the Kings did a nice job converting the chances they did get. Anze Kopitar made a skilled tip on Justin Williams’ shot. Rob Scuderi and Kyle Clifford combined for an intelligent goal by both men. Dustin Penner had a split-second to get off a shot, and converted with skill. So, each line contributed a goal, and the Kings had only a handful of quality scoring chances but took advantage of them.

The Kings took the lead less than three minutes into the game, but then they fell nearly completely silent on offense. Over the next 13 minutes, the Kings recorded only one shot on goal, and they went more than  nine minutes without any shots. How did they keep the lead? Jonathan Quick. The Lightning have a highly skilled group of forwards on their first two lines, and for a stretch in the first period, they came at Quick in waves. The Lightning outshot the Kings 10-6 in the first period, but took a lead, and some confidence, into the first intermission because Quick made a handful of excellent saves.

By the third period, a segment of Tampa Bay fans were booing the home team. It’s not just that the Lightning weren’t scoring. It’s that they weren’t even getting very good chances to score. Credit the Kings for that. After a first period that was more wide-open than the Kings would like, they got things more under control in the second period. In the third period, the Kings didn’t just fall back into a defensive shell. They had eight shots on goal to the Lightning’s 11, but the Kings did a solid job of limiting grade-A scoring chances. Darryl Sutter challenged the veteran defensemen to be better, and in large part, they were better.
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