For a long stretch the Kings looked like they didn’t deserve a win Wednesday. They essentially quit playing after a two-goal lead, and the Edmonton Oilers kept getting chance after chance well into the third period.
But the Kings held it together long enough to prevail, 5-2, to store two points before a potentially season-defining seven-game run away from home.
Here’s what we learned:
The goalie situation is interesting. Darcy Kuemper rightfully has the net after the second-longest shutout streak in Kings history — 193 minutes, 58 seconds — ended. It stretched over more than nine periods.
Do the Kings stick with Kuemper or return to Jonathan Quick? The schedule features two sets of back-to-back games on the trip, so it stands to reason they will call on both.
Statistically speaking, Quick has allowed five goals in each of his past two starts. But a deeper look reveals that he’s received poor support, against the Vancouver Canucks and Nashville Predators. Kings coach John Stevens said those were their two worst games this season.
Stevens framed it in a bigger picture, in relation to an odd schedule that’s had three separate breaks in the past month, when asked about his goalie tandem.
“We think we have two goalies that we believe in a great deal,” Stevens said. “We have two goalies capable of winning us hockey games, and we’re going to need them both down the stretch.”
Kuemper has a 1.17 goals-against average and .969 save percentage in his last five appearances. He hasn’t seen this much playing time in a while, and he said the dynamic between him and Quick is positive.
“When he’s playing, I’m supporting him,” Kuemper said. “Whenever I’ve gotten a chance to get in there, he’s done a great job of being there for me as well. Nothing’s changed. I know it’s tough [having gone] through it myself not playing, and he’s definitely not used to but he’s handling it like a real pro.”
More Doughty versus McDavid, please. It was pure joy to see Drew Doughty go up against Connor McDavid one-on-one several times. McDavid executed a takeaway on Doughty in the first period and beat him and Kuemper on a highlight goal in the second period. Doughty made an impressive stick break-up of McDavid’s pass in the third period.
The two perennial All-Stars have many more matchups left in the Pacific Division. Let’s sit back and enjoy it.
Paul LaDue is taking advantage of his opportunity. The rookie is in the lineup largely because of an injury to Alec Martinez, but he’s shown he belongs at this level, especially on offense.
LaDue is described as a Martinez-type player because of his offensive flair, and he’s shown it on both of his NHL goals, both game-winning goals. The Kings have veered from recent history and played several rookies this season, and LaDue is an example of one who’s been able to successfully use his time between the minors and the NHL.
“To his credit, he went down to Ontario [and worked with] the development staff, with [coach] Mike Stothers and his group,” Stevens said. “They really helped him better his game down there. He’s come back a better player, a more confident player. And he’s a guy, I think, that can help us at both ends of the rink. He’s playing the way we thought he could, but he really went down with the right attitude and worked at his game and now he’s come back a better player.”