Here’s what we learned from the Kings’ 4-2 win over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night:
The Kings might not score much, but they can score in bunches
After 57 mostly sleepy minutes in which the Kings got a goal on a long shot by Alec Martinez at 15:34 of the first period and the Islanders pulled even on a backhander by Anders Lee at 4:27 of the third period, the Kings scored three times in 44 seconds to pull away.
Trevor Lewis and Dwight King double-deflected a long shot by defenseman Derek Forbort for a 2-1 lead at 17:07 of the third period, King finished off a pass from Lewis at 17:32 for a 3-1 lead, and Jake Muzzin’s empty-net goal at 17:51 made it 4-1. Lee got one back for the Islanders at 18:08 but the Kings held on for their fourth straight win, matching their longest winning streak this season. “We’ve been streaking in both directions so far this season, so you want to stop streaking in the wrong direction,” said center Anze Kopitar, who returned after missing five games because of a hand or wrist injury. “We’re on the right path now, I think. Just playing our style of hockey, that definitely helps. We kept it pretty tight for the last three or four games now, so it’s paid off.”
Kopitar’s return was welcome
Kopitar had an assist and a plus -two defensive rating in 19 minutes and 1 second of ice time in his first game since Nov. 11 at Ottawa. “It felt good,” he said. “I missed five games, so it always shows. Maybe it didn’t show, but I definitely felt that I missed five games. I’m pretty happy where I was, but I can still play better, and I’ll try to do that the next game.”
The power play still isn’t producing much
It ranked 26th in the NHL with a 12.7% success rate after Wednesday’s games, but Derek King’s first goal — which was initially credited to Forbort — was scored one second after a penalty against Islanders defenseman Nick Leddy had expired. So although they’re not scoring on the power play, they’re sometimes scoring soon afterward, which counts, too.
“We’ve been talking that we don’t have to get a ton of power-play goals,” Kopitar said. “Obviously it helps and we would like to, but if we build good momentum off it that obviously helps, too. I think it was three or four or maybe even five times this year where we didn’t get the credit for the power-play goal, but we scored within five seconds of the guy coming out of the box. That shows that we’ve been gaining momentum. We want to score power-play goals, too, because everybody’s looking at the numbers, and at the end of the day even the coaches are grumpy when they look at the numbers and they’re not very good. So we want to get that going again. At the end of the day, the two points are the thing that matter.”
Sutter praised the team’s work ethic and execution against a team that he said stacked defenders at the blue line and made the Kings put pucks into the zone. “We get it back and we scored two,” he said, referring to their first and third goals.
He also liked the goal by King that gave the team a 2-1 lead. “It’s a chip play to speed,” he said, recapping the play that went from Lewis to Nick Shore to Forbort. “Forbort’s supposed to get it through to the net. Somebody’s supposed to get in front of the net. Tic-tac-toe, put your arms in the air.”