Tomorrow’s game story tonight …
One of these nights, one of the Kings’ centers will actually put the puck into the back of the net. Until they do, until one of them actually scores a goal, the Kings will have to settle for some effective playmaking from Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and company.
Besides, it’s not as if a lack of goals from their centers is hurting them in any significant way, shape or form. Take the Kings’ 5-2 victory Saturday over the Dallas Stars at Staples Center, for instance. It’s merely a statistical oddity at this point in the season.
With winger Justin Williams and defenseman Drew Doughty orchestrating things in the third period, the Kings had no issues scoring when it mattered most. Williams set up Doughty’s go-ahead goal 4 minutes, 42 seconds into the final period for his third point of the game.
Williams scored two first-period goals and narrowing missed recording his first hat trick since Oct. 16, 2006 while with the Carolina Hurricanes. He simply couldn’t pull the trigger on a point-blank try in the closing seconds of the Kings’ fifth win in their last six games.
Kopitar, the Kings’ top center, also had three points, assisting on both of Williams’ goals plus Doughty’s strike that made it 3-2 early in the third. Kopitar has eight assists in nine games this season, but has yet to record a goal.
Richards, another top Kings center, had a strong game, but could not convert on a breakaway after the Stars’ Jordie Benn coughed up the puck in the neutral zone. Richards won eight of 12 faceoffs and played 17:09 while anchoring the Kings’ second line.
“If you asked me that in August, I would have said that would have been unusual,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said when asked about the club’s lack of goal-scoring from its centers. “Not much I can do about it now. Mike and ‘Kopi’ have been really, really good for us. Every game.”
Tyler Seguin scored to give the Stars a 1-0 lead 8:49 into the game, but Williams countered for the Kings at 16:31. Williams then put the Kings ahead with a power-play strike at 19:32 of the first, ending their four-game scoring drought with the man-advantage.
Dallas forward Rich Peverley’s goal tied the score 2-2 in the second, and then Williams found a cutting Doughty for the tiebreaking goal. Tough guy Kyle Clifford and defenseman Matt Greene (empty net) provided insurance goals for the Kings.
“I was actually looking to pass,” Doughty said. “There was nothing there, so I tried to go five-hole (through the legs) on him (Dallas goalie Dan Ellis). It went in. I didn’t think it was going to go in, to be honest. I’ve been getting a lot of chances lately. I’ve been in on the rushes lately, getting opportunities, opportunities I should be scoring on. Sometimes the ones you shouldn’t score on, go in.”