Jeff Carter scored his first goal of the playoffs in the Kings’ 4-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues in Game 4 on Monday night, after recording a team-leading 26 during during the regular season. Anze Kopitar scored his first goal since March 25, ending a 19-game drought. Justin Williams scored his second of the playoffs, the go-ahead strike. Here’s what Kings coach Darryl Sutter had to say about all of that:
“Jeff scores a great goal. ‘Willie’ has been good the whole series. Good to see ‘Kopi’ score. That’s what they’re supposed to do. That’s what series are about. If you covered the playoffs last year, it’s all about big goals, not who scores them. But at the same time, who normally leads your team in scoring, you have to be close to that.”
Willie is Williams, of course. Kopi is Kopitar.
Tomorrow’s game story tonight …
Jeff Carter’s game-winning goal 4 minutes, 8 seconds into overtime seemed fitting. In a back-and-forth game with plenty of unusual bounces and head-scratching decisions, he was simply the right man in the right spot at the right time for the Kings.
Mike Richards’ shot from a sharp angle on left wing struck Carter in the chest and ricocheted into the Dallas Stars’ net to give the Kings a 4-3 victory Sunday night at Staples Center. The Kings clinched no worse than sixth place in the Western Conference with the win.
Voting is underway for the Kings’ 2012-13 season awards. Just got my ballot and am starting to give it some thought. My initial reaction on the awards:
MVP (Bill LIbby Memorial Award): I’m leaning toward forward Jeff Carter with a team-leading 24 goals in 43 games.
Best Newcomer (Mark Bavis Memorial Award): I’m thinking about rookie defenseman Jake Muzzin with seven goals and nine assists and a plus/minus rating of plus-14.
Outstanding Defenseman: Leaning toward Slava Voynov, who’s having a breakthrough season with five goals and 19 assists.
Best Defensive Player: Toss-up between forward Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, who have been terrific two-way players this season.
These are the awards voted on by reporters. The players vote on the Most Inspirational (Ace Bailey Memorial Award) and Unsung Hero.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter had this to say when asked if Dustin Penner’s return from injured reserve Tuesday against the Dallas Stars was helping to aid the play of linemates Jeff Carter and Mike Richards: “We’re trying to keep those top two lines (Carter-Richards-Penner and Dustin Brown-Anze Kopitar-Justin Williams) consistent and that means Dustin, Mike and Jeff have to complement each other. I don’t think it’s so much getting them going. Carter is fighting for the Rocket Richard (trophy), so I don’t think it’s about getting him going. I think Mike is a guy that plays better down the stretch. We’ve seen that, and that’s what he’s known for. So, it’s more Dustin that has to get going.”
The Kings faced a 20-year-old rookie goaltender making his NHL debut for a last-place team with nothing to play for except pride Thursday night at Staples Center. Naturally, it ended up as a test of wills that defied pregame expectations.
Colorado Avalanche coach Joe Sacco gave rookie goaltender Sami Aittokallio his first start Thursday night. All he had to do was face the defending Stanley Cup champions two nights after they stunk it up in the third period of a 5-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. The Avs didn’t make it easy on the 20-year-old Finn, giving up two early goals and hardly showing up after they played exceptionally well in defeating the Ducks on Wednesday. Jeff Carter (power play) and Mike Richards scored for the Kings, who outshot Colorado 15-4 in the period. Jonathan Quick hardly had to break a sweat in the opening 20 minutes.
The Kings didn’t look like a team that played Saturday, when they defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-1, finding reserves of energy late in Sunday’s game against the Ducks that enabled them to rally from a 3-2 deficit in the closing minutes of regulation.
Dustin Brown swatted home a free puck to tie the score at 3-all, one of 16 shots the Kings fired at goaltender Viktor Fasth in the third period. The Ducks went ahead on Matt Beleskey’s power-play goal early in the third, but had only five shots in the period.
“Played good, came in here and played hard, scored three goals and gave yourself a chance to win,” coach Darryl Sutter said after the Kings (22-13-4, fourth place in the Western Conference) rallied three times to force the game to overtime and a shootout.
The teams traded goals in the early going, with Drew Doughty of the Kings countering Kyle Palmieri’s goal for the Ducks and Jeff Carter answering Corey Perry’s strike for the Ducks, setting up a third Kings rally in the third period.
In the shootout, the Kings got only Carter’s goal against Fasth. Bobby Ryan, Saku Koivu and Perry scored for the Ducks against Jonathan Bernier. The teams play for the fourth and final time of the regular season Saturday at Staples Center.
Here’s what Kings winger Jeff Carter said Saturday about new teammate, Robyn Regehr, a veteran defenseman acquired in a trade last Monday from the Buffalo Sabres: “I think I only played against him a few times. When I came to the West, he went to the East. I mean, he’s just a hard-nosed big, strong guy. He’s almost like a bully out there. He’s always in your face. Every time you turn around, he’s there. It’s great for us back there.”
Jonathan Quick returned to the Kings’ net Saturday afternoon against the Edmonton Oilers and his teammates eased his burden with a fast start at Staples Center. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter scored first-period goals and Quick made 23 saves in a 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
The Kings moved past the idle San Jose Sharks into fourth place in the Western Conference standings. The Oilers are on the outside looking in at the postseason. The Kings play the Ducks on Sunday, and the Sharks face the Dallas Stars.
Here’s the recap from The Associated Press:
Mikko Koivu scored in a shootout to give the Minnesota Wild a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night in St. Paul, Minn. Koivu also had two assists in regulation. Matt Cullen also had a goal, Zach Parise had a goal and an assist and Niklas Backstrom stopped 28 shots for Minnesota, which bounced back after having its seven-game win streak ended a night earlier in Dallas.
Parise and Cullen also scored in the shootout for the Wild, who are in first place in the Northwest Division.