Drew Doughty had said “probably nobody” expected that the Kings would beat the Vegas Golden Knights. That was after Monday’s win.
On Tuesday, the Kings completed a home-and-home sweep of Vegas, with a goalie who had not won in the NHL before. Sometimes that’s what it takes during a playoff push.
The Kings were thoroughly outplayed in the second period but got two goals before they finished off a 4-1 win with a strong third period Tuesday.
Here’s what we learned:
Jack Campbell proved himself. There were some sideways looks when the Kings traded Darcy Kuemper, arguably the best backup goalie in the league, and handed that role to Campbell, who had only played in two NHL games before Tuesday.
Thrown into a divisional game, during a playoff race, Campbell made 41 saves for his first NHL win. With a condensed schedule, the Kings were going to need Campbell to give Jonathan Quick a break, and he delivered in his first NHL start since 2013.
“For me it was a little bit more than just another game,” Campbell said. “Of course, I want to prove to everybody, but most importantly my teammates, that they can count me.”
It helped that Campbell played here in a preseason game. He said Quick gave him tips on Vegas’ tendencies. Campbell also had an awkward moment when the straps on his pad broke. He could laugh about it afterward.
“It never happens,” Campbell said. “It never comes off. I’m thinking, ‘Great, my first game in four years. My thing comes undone.’ People hate me.”
The Kings kept their composure. Vegas was trying to get under their skin. Specifically, Ryan Reaves boarded Derek Forbort and hit Anze Kopitar in the third period.
The Kings could have been goaded into retaliation but managed to stay out of the penalty box. Drew Doughty, who got into it with David Perron for the second straight night, was seen teasing Reaves as Reaves headed to the penalty box, and that comic sight alone probably evened things out for the Kings.
“It was kind of weird because this was probably the biggest game I’ve played in and I felt most comfortable just because of the surroundings in the locker room,” he said. “Quickie was there to help me out a lot, giving me tips on what their tendencies were.”
Jeff Carter is rounding into form. It might still take time for Carter to get his rhythm fully back, but he’s made an impact in just three games since he returned from a leg injury.
Carter scored for the second straight game, on the power play, and put five shots on goal. He took nine shots on Monday. The real proof will probably be how Carter helps improve linemates Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson, as well as how much his return allows the Kings to have better depth defensively and on the power play.