Kings beat Islanders 5-1
It would take quite a sizable flatbed truck, but the Kings might want to consider finding a way to take STAPLES Center on the road with them.
Home has been sweet for the Kings this season, a trend that continued Saturday night when the Kings beat the New York Islanders 5-1 before a sellout crowd of 18,118.
The Kings are now 8-0-0 at STAPLES Center this season, setting the franchise record for most consecutive home victories to start a season. This time, the Kings took the lead before less than two minutes had elapsed, and never let it go.
scored two goals in the first 5:02, Justin Williams
and Dustin Brown
each scored goals – their team-high eighth goals of the season – and Drew Doughty
added a goal. Kopitar also had an assist for his first three-point game of the season.
stopped 18 of 19 shots in goal as the Kings won their sixth consecutive game and improved to 12-3-0 for a Western Conference-best 24 points. The Kings also set a franchise record for most wins and points accumulated after the first 15 games.
The Kings now hit the road, Monday at San Jose, and play five of their next six games away from STAPLES Center. There’s nothing to say the Kings can’t continue their strong play while on the road, but the home success has been something remarkable.
``Obviously we feel good at home,’’ Kopitar said. ``I don't know, in previous years, if it really was a case of that, if we stood out with our home record. Thus far, it's been great for us, and hopefully we can keep riding the wave.’’
The home success is even more remarkable considering that, frankly, the Kings weren’t even that great at home last season. Of the eight Western Conference teams to make the playoffs last season, the Kings had the fewest wins (22) and points (50).
Clearly, there has been a marked improvement this season, and that can be attributed to at least three things: Quick, the penalty kill – although certainly those two factors are related -- and the team’s stronger play at the start of the first period.
Quick improved his personal record to 10-1-0 this season, including 6-0-0 at home, and has yet to allow more than one goal in a home game this season.
The Kings also remain the only team in the NHL to not allow a power-play goal at home this season. They’re now 31-for-31 and have killed 22 consecutive penalties overall.
``The great thing is, the guys have a lot of pride in it,’’ coach Terry Murray said. ``It's hard work, and it's execution, but there's a lot of pride. When you start blocking shots and sacrificing yourself and reading and doing the right things, it's a great commitment.''
The strong starts are more complicated. Last season, at times, it seemed as though the Kings would often sit back and wait to see how the game would play out, and would let opponents dictate the pace and the style of the opening 20 minutes.
This season, for the most part, has been different, with the Kings getting the jump on opponents in the first period, and that’s how it played out against the Islanders. The Kings have scored the first goal nine times this season and are 9-0-0 in those games.
``I think it's the maturing of a hockey club that understands the importance of the first period,’’ Murray said. ``If you come out and you establish a good game, and you're able to get some offensive opportunities generated and maybe you're lucky enough to get a goal and you're leading at the end of the first period, the percentage of winning those games is pretty high in the National Hockey League.
``Again, that's just good leadership in the locker room. The players talk about this stuff, the starts, making sure that everybody is going and doing the right things, on the same page. We've been doing it very well in the early part of the season.''
The Islanders, 0-8-1 in their previous nine games, no doubt would have liked a quick start, to build some momentum and confidence, but before the game was six minutes old, they already trailed the Kings by two goals, thanks in large part to Kopitar.
The Kings took advantage of a good break to take the lead just 1:23 into the first period. Davis Drewiske
's point shot deflected off the skate of Dustin Brown
and went right to Kopitar, who beat Islanders goalie Dwayne Roloson from the right circle.
Kopitar's second goal of the game came at the 5:02 mark. Drew Doughty
's long-range shot was stopped by Roloson, but Kopitar got a poke at the rebound. The puck stayed free, and the Islanders' Josh Bailey went into the net to try to keep the puck out of it, but Kopitar's second chance beat everyone for a 2-0 Kings lead.
The two-goal lead lasted only 37 seconds, though. James Wisniewski's shot was stopped, but the rebound was pushed to the right circle. Rob Schremp was there and beat Quick with a wrist shot, through traffic, at the 5:39 mark.
The Kings took a 3-1 lead 3:15 into the second period. Jack Johnson
's shot, from just inside the blue line, hit a couple skates on its way to the net, and Williams was there, in front, to pick up the puck and score from close range. Jarret Stoll
also picked up an assist, and Williams now has at least one point in nine consecutive games.
``I'd like to score every game, if I can,’’ Williams said. ``You've got to play your ups and downs in the season. Right now, our line is making stuff happen. We're creating a lot of offense, but at the same time we still need to push forward, because the whole year isn't going to be easy. It's going to be ups and it's going to be downs, but we're working hard for each other right now, and that's important.’’
The Kings practiced penalty shots on Friday, and it paid off on Saturday, as Brown scored on a penalty shot 7:46 into the third period. Brown was tripped while on a breakaway, and on the ensuing penalty shot, Brown faked a backhand and tucked the puck between Roloson's pads for a 4-1 Kings lead.
A power-play goal gave the Kings a 5-1 lead with 4:34 remaining in the third period. Kopitar faked a shot and instead sent a cross-ice pass to Doughty, who one-timed it from the outer part of the left faceoff circle. Roloson got a piece of the shot, but it trickled past him. Johnson also picked up an assist, and Kopitar recorded his third point of the game.
The Kings ended up outshooting the Islanders 34-19.
``It's kind of hard to be in these types of games, because you're expected to win, but by no means was it an easy game,’’ Kopitar said. ``Maybe it seemed like that, and maybe the score showed it that way, but they battled hard and they have some skilled players that you obviously have to be aware of at all times. I thought it was a pretty good team game again tonight.’’
|Three star selections