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The Key Three: Jan. 23

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Three key aspects of the Kings’ 2-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators...

On Monday morning, in explaining his choice to replace Trent Hunter with Kevin Westgarth, Darryl Sutter, said, ``The fourth line has been sort of off on the energy part of it here, so we’ll see if we can get a different look.’’ Sutter probably didn’t imagine the fourth line contributing on two goals, but that’s what happened. In the first period, Kyle Clifford pushed an accurate pass up to Willie Mitchell, whose point shot beat Craig Anderson. Then, in the second period, Clifford got rewarded for his work when he chased down his own rebound and scored. Colin Fraser, who entered the game with two points, assisted on both goals.

The way things have been going for the Kings of late on offense, getting a second goal is something to celebrate. Four goals? That’s a scoring blizzard. Give the Kings credit for not letting up after the second goal. They were playing good defense, and as usual, Jonathan Quick was solid in goal, but the Kings did not go into a defensive shell. They kept pushing and drew a couple penalties, then took advantage of them as they scored a 5-on-3 goal. The clinching goal came in the final minute, as the Kings crashed the net and drew a penalty shot -- albeit thanks to a highly questionable call -- and Trevor Lewis converted with a goal.

The Kings’ penalty-kill unit, usually stellar over the past few seasons, has been in a rut of late, and the Kings did allow a power-play goal for the seventh consecutive game, but at that point they already held a four-goal lead. The Kings’ penalty kill was solid when it mattered most, though. Ottawa had a power play five minutes into a scoreless game but didn’t score, and the Kings managed to take the lead late in the period. Then, one minute after the Kings took a 2-0 lead in the middle of the second period, the Kings took a bad goalie-interference penalty, but killed it and then scored a big third goal near the end of the period.
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