Every hockey team, throughout its long 82-game season, will go through their trials and tribulations. The Los Angeles Kings are going through theirs right now with their number one and two goaltenders out with lower-body injuries. Tonight, though, following a long goalless streak, won their fifth overtime game of the season. Los Angeles defeated the defending Stanley Cup champions, Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-2 at the Staples Center on Wednesday night.
Going into tonight, the big names on the team, Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty, Tanner Pearson, et. al, needed to step up their offensive game. However, tonight, the goal scorers were Trevor Lewis, Matt Greene, and Nic Dowd. All three are grinders for the Kings, but none are offensive machines.
“We obviously played through coming from down a goal and got a lead. I thought we were really solid. That's what I said this morning. Score the first goal. Just got to keep fighting through that stuff,” Darryl Sutter said on his team’s performance (quotes via Jon Rosen -- LA Kings Insider).
Pittsburgh gets first goal
Things, though, did not go according to plan in the first period as the Penguins opened the scoring with 7 minutes and 28 seconds left in the opening stanza. One of Peter Budaj’s flaws since he's taken over the goalie duties has been rebounds. Budaj makes decent saves, but often lets the puck bounce back into play, and the Penguins capitalized on one of these instances.
The initial shot, from Kris Letang was saved well by Budaj. He left too big of a rebound, however, and Sidney Crosby burried home the loose puck.
Kings score two unanswered
At 15:35, in the second period, the Kings ended their three-plus game goalless streak. Trevor Lewis sent a puck through Marc-Andre Fleury’s goal crease. His pass deflected off of the Pittsburgh’s goalie stick and it somehow made its way into the back of the goal.
The Kings took a 2-1 lead early on in the final stanza in this hockey game. Off of a face off, Greene rifled a shot from near the blue line. Aided by traffic in front, Greene’s shot gave Los Angeles the advantage.
Pittsburgh are the defending champions for a reason. They fought back during the middle part of the third to tie the game back at two. Letang found Crosby wide open right in front of the net, and the latter did not miss from his position. You simply cannot leave one of the best hockey players in the world with that much room in front of goal. He will rarely miss from there.
Kings win fifth overtime
Since the NHL switched to the 3vs3 overtime format, the Kings have been one of the best in the league in that department. And tonight, they proved their case once more.
Tanner Pearson had great vision behind the net with two Penguins pressuring him. He found Dowd wide open in the slot. Dowd took his time with the puck, looking for the perfect angle before going past Fleury for his second career goal.