Road struggles are so last year, right?
The Kings started 2015 on the right note, eventually, and there were plenty of takeaways after they rallied from a late 2-1 deficit to win, 3-2, at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, outshooting the Canucks, 40-16.
Importance of the power play
Special teams helped the Kings get a hard-fought point in Edmonton on Tuesday (a shootout loss), and the power play paved the way to the comeback on Thursday. Justin Williams tied it, 2-2, with his power-play goal with 2:07 remaining in the third period.
“Getting the penalty called on them, that was important because I thought there was one just prior to that that we didn’t get [called] for us,” said Kings Coach Darryl Sutter. “In a 2-1 game, you need the breaks. I think both those goals [in the third period] were short-side goals, but we made good plays to keep pucks in, and one’s a power-play goal.”
Line juggling paid off
Sutter was tweaking the lines and put the kids, Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, back with veteran center Jeff Carter. Pearson, in particular, was active and sharp and hit the goal post with a wrist shot, just 1:43 into the game.
The line combined for nine shots on goal.
Later, Pearson would set up Jarret Stoll’s game-winning goal, taking advantage of time and space. It was the Kings’ fifth road win and first since beating Ottawa on Dec. 11.
“I think it was a pretty gutsy effort out of the guys,” Pearson said. “Obviously, we haven’t been that strong of a team on the road, and to come back in the third period like we did, I think, was a big thing for us.”
Veterans spark the comebacks
Williams, who is called “Stick” by his teammates, is not terribly fond of another nickname, Mr. Game 7. He earned that one long ago by virtue of his remarkable playoff exploits.
But Williams is 7-0 in career Game 7s and has scored seven goals and 14 points in Game 7s, an NHL record. An ordinary regular-season game in January ranks considerably lower on the rungs of importance, but Williams was emphatic about its meaning going forward.
“This is big for our hockey club,” he said.
Stoll, likewise, has a way of coming through in big moments. His goal in overtime clinched the first-round playoff series against the Canucks in 2012. That was the first step of the Kings’ road to the Stanley Cup. Vancouver, most definitely, agrees with Stoll. “I like the city. It’s a good city,” he said.