After they had a loss shoved down their throats two nights earlier, the Kings took a big gulp of orange-and-blue tonic Saturday.
That arrived in the form of the Edmonton Oilers, whom the Kings exposed in a 4-0 win that was garnished with personal milestones for Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick.
Kopitar scored his 300th goal and Quick got his 300th win. The supporting cast set the table with goals by Kyle Clifford, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli for the Kings’ first win of 2019.
Here’s what we learned:
Carter and Toffoli needed a game like this
Before Saturday, Toffoli scored one goal since Nov.17. Carter scored twice in that same span. It didn’t hurt that they faced an Oilers team with a suspect defense and both took advantage in the first period.
While not really a floodgates-opening type of game, it went a long way for the two to see the puck go in the net.
“The year probably hasn’t gone like the way wanted, but they’ve … been getting more and more looks, so it’s good,” coach Willie Desjardins said. “It’s good for us as a group.”
The new lines ended up working
Well, all four lines scored. By that measure, it was a success. It was also telling that in the first game that Desjardins moved Ilya Kovalchuk to the top line, the other three lines scored first before Kopitar’s milestone goal.
With players getting healthy, Desjardins has some decisions to make, and his choice of sitting Matt Luff in favor of Brendan Leipsic and Kyle Clifford initially did not seem to please fans.
Luff is their third-leading goal scorer, but he’s also had some defensive issues, such as an intercepted pass that turned into a goal against the Vegas Golden Knights last week and another miscue that led to a prime chance Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I think when I get back in there, I know what I’ve got to do, and try and create as many looks for myself as I can but make sure all around, I’m moving my feet,” Luff said.
“I was used to getting looks and a lot of chances in the game. But me and Willie talked. It’s the best league in the world. It’s the best defensive players. It’s about getting to the net here. I think once I get one here, they’ll start coming again, and I’ll get some confidence back because obviously I want to score.”
Don’t put too much weight into this win
The Kings have taken care of priority No. 1 against Edmonton in holding Connor McDavid to two assists in three games this season. They are also getting healthier and grabbing confidence simply by competing more.
But in the larger scope Saturday, they cleaned up against an Edmonton team that, by its own admission, didn’t show up and is in disarray.
“We had one player show up and play – Darnell Nurse,” Edmonton coach Ken Hitchcock said. “He was our best player by a mile … and that’s all we had. We didn’t compete. Their best players were their best players. We didn’t compete. This is on everybody.”