Kings beat Wild 3-2 in shootout
Monday, 06.18.2012 / 10:38 PM
ST. PAUL -- It's probably not a formula the Kings would like to follow, going forward.
For the second consecutive game, the Kings faced a potentially devastating five-minute penalty kill and not only escaped unscathed but pulled out a win. This time, the Kings rallied from a two-goal deficit for a 3-2 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild on Monday night at Xcel Energy Center.
Despite missing on handfuls of offensive chances, the Kings got power-play goals from Jarret Stoll
and Anze Kopitar
and some timely saves from Jonathan Quick
to improve to 6-2 this season.
``We got down early there, but we've got a lot of confidence in this room,'' defenseman Matt Greene
said. ``Early on, we had a lot of chances. We just weren't shooting the puck. It could have easily been the other way, 2-0 us. We just stuck with it. Quickie played great.''
Just over eight minutes into the second period, Kings captain Dustin Brown
got a major penalty and a game misconduct after referees believed that he delivered a blow to the head of Minnesota's Antti Miettinen. The Kings would have to stop the NHL's best power play for five minutes.
So, they did. The Kings killed the penalty, allowing only four shots on goal, and held Minnesota's lead to 2-1. The Kings tied the game 2-2 with Kopitar's 5-on-3 goal late in the second period, and Michal Handzus
' goal in the fifth round of the shootout was the winner.
Based on the on-ice call, Brown is eligible for supplemental discipline, but it seems more likely that the league will rescind his game-misconduct penalty. Video appeared to show that Brown kept his elbow tucked and made contact with his shoulder, well below Miettinen's chin.
``If I had hit him in the head, he would probably be on the ice for a lot longer than he was,'' Brown said. ``The league is looking at hits like that. I think that was a clean hit, from top to bottom. Shoulder on shoulder. He's shooting the puck and he's in a vulnerable position, maybe, but I'm not going to not make that hit. Actually, I hit him almost on the inside of the shoulder.
``If I hit his head, I'm not sitting here even arguing it, but (it was) a shoulder-on hit, and I think he still had the puck when I made contact, so it wasn't late or anything.''
During the offseason, the league implemented new rules about blindside and lateral hits to the head, and much attention has been paid to potential violations. According to Kings coach Terry Murray, referee Wes Cauley said he would review the hit and perhaps recommend that the penalty by rescinded. Multiple game-misconduct penalties can result in player suspension.
A Minnesota Wild team spokesman said referees declined to comment after the game.
``There was no blow to the head,'' Murray said. ``You have an offensive player in a prime scoring area, shooting the puck. The defending player has to have the ability to get contact there. You have to defend against that kind of a shot. It's a prime scoring situation. I thought he made a tremendous effort to get in front of the shooter and it comes right from the front. There was not, in my view of it, on the replay, a blindside hit.''
Brown's penalty came two nights after Wayne Simmonds
received a five-minute major for ``butt-ending,'' and the Kings then scored a huge shorthanded goal in a victory over Colorado.
Regardless, the Kings also overcame Monday's major penalty. Jack Johnson
assisted on both power-play goals and Quick made 20 saves, plus four out of six in the shootout.
The Kings outshot the Wild 34-22, and had perhaps 10 prime scoring chances, but needed to grind out the win, their fifth in their last six games. They have now won two of three on this road trip, which concludes with games at Chicago (Wednesday) and Dallas (Thursday).
Stoll scored in the third round of the shootout -- in Brown's usual spot -- to force sudden death, and Quick stopped Miettinen to win the game after Handzus scored to start the fifth round.
Special teams carried the night for the Kings. Their power play had been 1-for-22 on the season before they scored two power-play goals in Saturday's victory over Colorado. Against the Wild, the Kings went 2-for-7 on the power play, and they also went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill against a Minnesota team that entered the game with the NHL's best power-play efficiency rate.
``We didn't do anything special,'' Murray said. ``That's the way our penalty-killing has been going, and the structure we've been showing all year. We try to do a real good job up ice, and kind of serpentine back through the neutral zone to put constant pressure on the puck.
``We wanted to take the puck out of the hands of (Matt) Cullen. We know that they like him to bring the puck up the ice, and if we can force it on the boards or force it away from him, then we read and pressure from there.''
The Wild had scored on more than half of their power-play chances in home games this season, but the Kings held them to seven shots on goal in 8:26 of power-play time.
The Kings very well could have led early in the first period. They had a handful of quality scoring chances in the first five minutes, but Minnesota struck first, with a goal at the 5:52 mark. Quick made the save on layton Stoner's long-range shot, but couldn't hold the puck or cover the rebound, and Madden swooped in and knocked in the loose puck.
Minnesota needed less than two minutes to score again for a 2-0 lead. Nick Schultz took a heavy slap shot from just inside the blue line, and it got deflected by a Kings player and into the Kings' net 7:42 into the first period.
After failing to score on the first two power plays of the first period, the Kings pulled to within 2-1 on a power-play goal with 1:23 remaining in the period. After some puck movement, Stoll shot from the middle of the left circle and his wrist shot beat goalie Niklas Backstrom.
The Kings continued to swarm, but were dealt a blow when Brown was called for the game misconduct and the accompanying five-minute major. The Wild had only sporadic pressure during the lengthy power play, and Quick held up well in goal.
`That's big time,'' Greene said. ``Obviously you don't want to kill too many of those, but we got back-to-back games there with five-minute penalties. Obviously we'd rather not give those up, but it's good to get the practice now and get comfortable with those long kills early in the year, and hopefully not need them later.''
After the Kings killed Brown's five-minute penalty, they had no less than four outstanding scoring chances. The final one ended up in the net, as Kopitar pounced on a rebound in front and scored a 5-on-3 goal with 17 seconds remaining.
``It's one of those things where you get a major called against you, and there's nothing better than to kill that off and get the momentum off that,'' Kopitar said. ``After that, we obviously got a 5-on-3 and we cashed in pretty quick. I don't think you can ask any more than that. Did we have the start we wanted? No, but a comeback win feels pretty good too.''
The teams traded scoring chances in a back-and-forth, scoreless third period.
Before the game, the Kings recalled rookie defenseman Jake Muzzin
from Manchester of the AHL and placed Drew Doughty
on injured reserve, retroactive to Oct. 21. Doughty could technically return for Thursday's game at Dallas, but that is not considered a likely scenario at this point.