It was an emotional day for the Los Angeles Kings. They started the day by announcing that long-time play-by-play voice Bob Miller wold be retiring at the end of the season and finished the night by coming back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 via the shootout.
What a day.
The Kings needed extra time for the third consecutive game on Thursday night and were able to walk away with the victorious second point, something they couldn’t do in the two overtime losses leading up to this game.
Anze Kopitar scored a goal and notched the decisive shootout tally and Jonathan Quick made 29 saves and turned away all three skaters he faced in the shootout to push the Kings to win number 31 on the season.
It was a big game for both teams. With one point, Toronto kept pace with the New York Islanders in the race for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot and the second point for the shootout win pushed the Kings into the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
“We’ve got to keep racking up the two points,” Kopitar told LA Kings Insider. “We all know it’s going to be tight in the end, so we’ve got to grab the points and as many as we can obviously grab.”
The young Maple Leafs had the Kings chasing early in the game. The opening two minutes of the game took place almost exclusively in Los Angeles’ zone before Toronto’s pressure paid off.
After forcing a turnover and controlling the play low in the offensive zone, Tyler Bozak redirected a Mitch Marner shot that beat Quick. Just over two minutes into the game and the Kings were behind on the scoreboard and had yet to test Toronto’s Frederik Andersen with a shot on goal.
The Kings were able to generate more time in the offensive zone after coming out of the gate at a snails pace but the Maple Leafs were a constant threat with their quick-strike style of play.
The game seemed to lean in the Maple Leafs favor during the second period. Although the play was somewhat back and forth it felt as if a bounce was going to catch someone by surprise. That bounce caught the Kings by surprise.
Seven minutes into the period, Nikita Zaitsev received a face-off win from Brian Boyle and let go of a wrister that found its way through traffic and past a surprised Quick. The shot needed eyes to see through the amount of bodies it squeezed through.
The Kings skated into the third period and hit the Maple Leafs with a quick one-two punch.
First, while playing with carryover power-play time, Kopitar received a pass in the right circle where he unloaded a one-timer. The shot was well wide but ricocheted off the helmet of Zaitsev and past Andersen. A lucky bounce that usually doesn’t go the Kings’ way.
Then, just 90 seconds later, it was Tanner Pearson who evened the score at two. While streaking down the boards and taking a heavy hipcheck, the winger played the puck deep. The play came out from behind Andersen before a forced turnover put the puck back on Pearson’s stick. Pearson found his way into the slot, made a slick play in tight and got the puck past Andersen.
The two teams exchanged several high-quality chances over the final 18 minutes of the period. But Quick turned away all 11 shots he faced in the period and Andersen didn’t give up another goal which sent the contest into overtime.
The extra frame was chock full of scoring opportunities for both teams. A plethora of odd-man chances and fast-break opportunities led to eight shots on goal during the extra five minutes, but Quick and Andersen stood tall. The game needed the shootout to decide a winner.
Four skaters attempted shots and four skaters were denied to open the shootout. It was Kopitar who scored the shootout’s lone goal to open the third round of shooting. Then Quick did his best corkscrew impression to deny William Nylander and grab the Kings that elusive second point.
— Eric (@Kingsgifs) March 3, 2017
TOR – Tyler Bozak (15) assisted by Mitch Marner (34) and James van Riemsdyk (29)
TOR – Nikita Zaitsev (3) assisted by Brian Boyle (10)
LAK – Anze Kopitar (7) assisted by Drew Doughty (27) and Jake Muzzin (13)
LAK – Tanner Pearson (22) assisted by Alec Martinez (23) and Tyler Toffoli (13)
THW Three Stars
First: Anze Kopitar (1G, shootout winner)
Second: Jonathan Quick (29 saves, 4/4 in the shootout)
Third: Frederik Andersen (33 saves, 3/4 in the shootout)
Vancouver Canucks @ Los Angeles Kings
Staples Center – 7:00 PM PST Saturday, Mar. 4, 2017
Broadcast Channels: FS-W, SN
2016-17 Season Series:
Oct. 22, 2016 – Kings 4 – Canucks 3 (SO)
Dec. 28, 2016 – Canucks 2 – Kings 1
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Anaheim Ducks
Honda Center – 7:00 PM PST Friday, Mar. 3, 2017
Broadcast Channels: FS-A, CSN-CA
2016-17 Season Series:
Dec. 19, 2016 – Ducks 3 – Maple Leafs 2
Eric received his BA in Journalism from California State University, Northridge. Eric has contributed to RinkRoyalty.com, Buffalowdown.com and California Rubber Magazine.