The Key Three: March 20
Three key aspects of the Kings' 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks
1. SECOND-PERIOD BOOST
In all, the Sharks had to feel pretty good about their first period. Yes, it was a tie game, and yes, the Sharks allowed a shorthanded goal and got outshot 12-8. But statistically, the first period has been the Sharks’ weakest this season, and they showed great improvement over their dismal effort the previous night against Anaheim. The Kings, though, turned it on the second period. They outshot the Sharks 16-5 and, particularly in the latter half of the period, dominated the pace of play and the scoring chances. The Kings deserved a goal, and got it when Alec Martinez scored with 4:11 remaining, and they were able to carry that momentum into the third period.
2. POWER-PLAY CUSHION GOAL
The third period started with a parade to the penalty box, and the Kings got the better of the exchange, as they had a 5-on-4 advantage, then a 5-on-3 advantage, then a 4-on-3 advantage. After all that, there was also a delayed penalty on Brent Burns. The Kings had to score. They were still nursing a one-goal lead, and if the Sharks could manage to kill all those penalties, their confidence would have been soaring and they would have had plenty of time to take the lead. But the Kings pounced. Anze Kopitar continued his scoring streak with a well-played goal. Yes, the Sharks scored three minutes later, which only emphasized the importance of a two-goal cushion.
3. THE BALANCING ACT
Darryl Sutter has been stressing the importance of balance since he arrived. Now he’s getting it. On Saturday, the Kings got goals from players on each of their four lines. Last night, it was a different type of balance. They got goals on the power play, shorthanded and (two) at even strength, plus an empty-net goal for good measure. Again, the goals got spread around, with Anze Kopitar (first line, albeit on the power play), Mike Richards and Jeff Carter (second line, shorthanded and empty-net), Dustin Penner (third line) and Alec Martinez (defenseman) getting goals. If the Kings can sustain anything close to that type of balance, they will be tough to play against.