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The Key Three: Jan. 17

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

The Kings, one of the most-successful shootout teams in the NHL last season, had been 3-5 in the shootout this season and had lost three in a row. So why not shake things up? Justin Williams had only one shootout attempt this season, and he scored. Why not have him lead off this time? He scored. Mike Richards had been 0-for-2 in shootouts this season, and had also failed to score in two penalty-shot attempts. He was bound to score sometime, right? Darryl Sutter went away from Jarret Stoll, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, the regular shootout lineup, and his gamble paid off with a win.

The Kings were playing their third game in four nights. The Canucks had been stewing at home for 48 hours, upset after their tepid loss to Anaheim on Sunday. The Canucks had a first-period goal differential of plus-24, while the Kings were minus-13. If the Kings could somehow get some momentum early, and take the lead into the first intermission, they had a puncher’s chance. That’s exactly what happened. The Kings easily could have scored three or four first-period goals, and although the Canucks improved greatly in the second and third periods, the Kings never trailed.

The Kings faced the end of a tough road trip and a tough team. In order to beat the Canucks, they would need a four-line effort, and that’s exactly what they got. Consider that the Kings held a 2-1 lead going into the third period, and that the following players had recorded zero shots on goal at that point: Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Jarret Stoll and Mike Richards. That’s four of the top six forwards. Darryl Sutter did shorten his bench a bit in the third period and overtime, but he was allowed to do that only because the third and fourth lines had given the team quality minutes over the first two periods.
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