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The Key Three: March 30

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Three key aspects of the Kings’ 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers...

The game, potentially, was there for the taking when Anze Kopitar went to the penalty box with 9:55 remaining in the first period of a 1-1 game. Edmonton had already scored one power-play goal, and even though the Kings had been the better team at that point, another Oilers goal would have got the crowd in the game and might have left the Kings questioning themselves. Instead, the Oilers bobbled the puck at the Kings’ blue line, and Mike Richards picked it up and was off to the other end. Richards beat Nikolai Khabibulin with a brilliant backhand shot, and the Oilers didn’t even record a shot on goal for the rest of the period.


With Jeff Carter out of the lineup, who would step up for the Kings? The answer: Dustin Brown. And Mike Richards. And Matt Greene. And Anze Kopitar. Don’t forget Alec Martinez, Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty, Dwight King, Colin Fraser and...well, it should be obvious. The Kings got a full-lineup effort, but most notable was the way the team leaders stepped up. Brown played one of his best overall games, Richards had just from his first shift and scored a shorthanded goal and Greene had two assists and played a physical game. Those are the three captains, and they stepped up. The Kings, once again, had a solid 60-minute effort.

Mentally, the difference between a two-goal deficit and a one-goal deficit, at the end of the second period, is pretty large. A one-goal deficit, particularly after a goal late in the period, can give a team life, and huge momentum in the third period. The Oilers trailed 3-1 late in the second period, but they started putting pressure on the Kings. Jonathan Quick didn’t face much pressure in the game, but he made two massive glove saves late in the second period: on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with 55 seconds left and on Andy Sutton with 12 seconds left. The Oilers, instead of having momentum, were instead outshot 15-4 in the third period.
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