Goal might have been fluke, but Voynov isn’t

Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi, a New York native, said he has no trouble understanding the limited English of his Russian-born defense partner, Slava Voynov.

“I think it’s pretty easy when you’re saying the same 10 words to each other,” Scuderi said.

Especially when four of those words are “Congratulations on your goal,” a phrase Scuderi has repeated often this spring.

Voynov’s fifth goal of the playoffs, an almost comically slow change-of-pace produced when his stick broke as he shot, held up as the winner Tuesday in the Kings’ 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, a game the injury-depleted Kings simply refused to lose.

Besides setting up Justin Williams’ first-period goal and putting the Kings ahead for good, Voynov padded his defensive rating to plus 10. That’s the highest in postseason play for anyone not wearing a Boston Bruins uniform.


The goal might have been a fluky play, but Voynov’s success is no accident. He was a key player in the team’s Stanley Cup run a year ago and was among the few Kings who improved his game this season at both ends of the ice.

“If you work hard enough, it’s amazing how much good luck you might get,” Scuderi said of Voynov’s goal, which eluded a befuddled Corey Crawford at 6:37 of the second period Tuesday.

“I thought we worked hard that shift. We had a couple chances, couple good looks, and then we end up getting a broken-stick goal, of all the shots we took. But sometimes that happens.”

Maybe they’ve talked about that too, because Voynov seemed to credit good fortune more than anything on that goal.

“Broken stick, puck just go too slow,” he said. “And lucky.”

His goal total is a record for a Kings defenseman in one playoff year, and his four game-winners is a club record for all skaters in one playoff year. He previously scored decisive goals in Games 3 and 5 against St. Louis in the first round and in the opener against San Jose in the second round. He had only two game-winners among his six goals during the 48-game regular season.

“He seems to really love the playoffs,” defenseman Robyn Regehr said, smiling. “He’s red-hot here.”

Someone other than Williams has to score if the Kings are to erase Chicago’s 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals, and Voynov picked up the slack Tuesday as they cut their deficit in half and extended their home winning streak to 15, the last eight in the playoffs.

Of Voynov’s six career playoff goals, five have been game-winners, tying him with Wayne Gretzky for second in club history in that category. The club record is nine, held by Luc Robitaille.

Voynov also has two goals and seven points in the last six games, including two assists in the Kings’ Game 7 second-round victory over San Jose.

That’s the mark of a clutch player, but he was reluctant to accept that label or take much credit for the Kings’ success in keeping the Blackhawks at bay in Game 3.

“I don’t care. Team win and I’m excited for that,” he said.

He also downplayed the notion his scoring makes him stand out, though it surely does make him distinctive on a team that has had to labor for goals. Only Williams and Jeff Carter, with six goals each, have scored more goals during these playoffs than Voynov.

But again, a shrug. “I’m on the team too, so I score, team score,” he said, and the logic is irrefutable.

Regehr, acquired by the Kings on April 1, didn’t know much about Voynov before this playoff run began. He likes what he has seen.

“He’s a very good player. He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s very athletic and he just competes hard,” Regehr said of Voynov, who is generously listed at 6 feet tall and 190 pounds.

“You can see him in the corner, using that ability to defend against players that are bigger than him. What he’s done offensively has been huge for this team.”

The more success Voynov has, the more success the Kings are likely to enjoy. That might not be among the 10 words in those conversations between Scuderi and Voynov, but they almost go without saying.




1 - Kings right wing Justin Williams made it to the rink on time. He was all over the ice in the first period

when the team needed a jolt of energy, and he scored the only goal of the period.

2 - Paging Patrick Kane. Mr. Patrick Kane, please report to the Blackhawks’ locker room. Once again, he was not

a factor and he has gone seven playoff games without a goal.

3 - Jonathan Quick didn’t have to make many saves, but he got his blocker on a fine chance by Jonathan Toews

with about 3:20 to play and stopped a Bryan Bickell chance a little later, before Dwight King’s empty-netter

gave the Kings an insurance goal.

-- Helene Elliott