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The Key Three: March 13

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Three key aspects of the Kings’ 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings...

One of Darryl Sutter’s first points of emphasis, when he took over the Kings in late December, was to improve their first-period play. Too often under Terry Murray, the Kings looked passive and waited for opponents to dictate how the game would be played. The Kings have been far from perfect in this area, but the last two games -- against Chicago and Detroit -- have showed how much momentum a team can generate by playing well in the first five minutes. The Kings’ best players took the lead. Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar scored first-period goals, with two assists from Dustin Brown and one from Drew Doughty.

It seemed inevitable that the Kings could have an ``uh-oh’’ moment last night, even after they took a 2-0 lead in the first period. Sure enough, the Red Wings came out strong at the start of the second period and the Kings got sloppy with their passing. The momentum turn got punctuated with Henrik Zetterberg and Jiri Hudler combined for a nice goal at the 4:06 mark. Would the Kings wilt again? No. It took them a little while longer to get back on solid ground, but Drew Doughty scored a huge goal with 9:03 remaining in the second period. After that, the Red Wings seemed to lose their jump and the Kings held their lead with poise and confidence.

Slava Voynov scored a power-play goal in the third period to give the Kings a 4-2 lead, but at that point, the Kings had already scored a technical knockout in terms of special-teams play. The shorthanded Red Wings have been struggling on the power play of late, and the Kings pounced when Anze Kopitar scored a shorthanded goal in the first period to give the Kings a 2-0 lead. The Kings needed their penalty kill again early in the third period, when the Red Wings had a 5-on-3 advantage for 34 seconds, and a chance to make it a one-goal game. The Kings killed the penalties with relative ease, and Detroit’s last threatening chance passed.
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