The Kings turned in a lackluster first 40 minutes Thursday, falling behind the New York Islanders by two goals at Uniondale, N.Y., before rallying behind third-period goals from defenseman Slava Voynov and rookie forwards Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli to pull out a 3-2 victory. The Kings have secured three points out of a possible four so far on their four-game trip. Here are three things about the Kings’ victory over the Islanders:
1. Coach Darryl Sutter was forced to ice a lineup that didn’t include forwards Jeff Carter (broken foot), Kyle Clifford (concussion) and Jarret Stoll (upper body), plus defenseman Matt Greene (upper body) and goaltender Jonathan Quick (groin). With the Kings playing as if they were stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway, Sutter turned to Pearson, Toffoli and Linden Vey for some energy in the third period. The coach teamed the three rookies together, hoping their experience as a top line with Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League would aid them. Pearson scored the tying goal and Toffoli supplied the go-ahead score, with only 1 minute, 27 seconds left in the third. So, that worked well. You can expect to see them together again. Often. The Kings’ trip continues with games Friday against the New Jersey Devils and Sunday against the New York Rangers.
2. Ben Scrivens has a chance to show the Kings and their fans that the club didn’t get swindled in the offseason trade that sent backup goalie Jonathan Bernier to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Scrivens and forward Matt Frattin went the other way. Quick is out for up to six weeks because of a groin injury suffered Tuesday in the Kings’ shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres, so Scrivens should have plenty of time to prove his value. Scrivens had 23 saves in the Kings’ come-from-behind victory over the Islanders, keeping them within striking distance while they were outplayed during the first two periods. Martin Jones will serve as his backup for the time being.
3. Slava Voynov continues to impress and amaze. He kick-started the Kings’ comeback with a goal from a sharp angle off a pass from below the goal line by Anze Kopitar. There’s more to the young defenseman’s game than scoring, though. The puck seemed to be following him around the ice in the third period, when the Kings wrestled control of the game from the Islanders. Voynov isn’t the biggest player in the Kings’ defense corps. He’s not their best puckhandler. He’s certainly not their most experienced player. He continues to make smart plays that help the Kings win games, however. It happens at both ends of the ice, too. He’s not a one-trick pony, which is why his value to the Kings will only increase as he logs more and more ice time. He’s trending in the right direction, in other words.
Here’s what 22-year-old rookie Tyler Toffoli had to say after scoring two goals and adding an assist in the KIngs’ 5-1 victory Saturday over the Vancouver Canucks:
“It was good. We wanted to have a really solid game. Tonight was was good night. I tried to get open and tried to rip it and (Mike Richards) made two unbelievable passes to me tonight. I think it’s the same as last time (after being called up last season). I’m trying to earn my spot on the team. I’m trying to stay in the lineup. We’ll see how things go. It sucks (being one of the last cuts coming out of training camp). You don’t want to be playing in the American Hockey League. You want to be playing in the NHL. I went down there and it took a little time to adjust to hockey again, I guess. I just started heating up again.”
Here’s the updated version of tonight’s romp by the Kings …
Rookie forwards Linden Vey and Tyler Toffoli are in nearly the same predicament with the Kings. Despite posting some eye-catching statistics with Manchester (N.H.) of the AHL the last few seasons, there simply haven’t been any job openings with the Kings, who have a veteran roster that’s been remarkably stable.
The Kings had a strong Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs connection for Thursday’s game against Buffalo, with 10 former Monarchs in the lineup. The Kings’ AHL alums were: Dustin Brown, Dwight King, Trevor Lewis, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Jordan Nolan, Tyler Toffoli, Linden Vey, Slava Voynov and Jonathan Quick,
Thanks to the Kings’ crack media relations staff for that statistic.
Rookie Tyler Toffoli recorded an assist Saturday in his first game since he was recalled from the minor leagues. Fellow forward Linden Vey did not dress for the Kings’ loss to the Nashville Predators. Toffoli played 19 minutes, 23 seconds Saturday, which is a fair amount of ice time. Vey didn’t play because, as Kings coach Darryl Sutter explained Tuesday, the 22-year-old forwards are both here to play regular shifts or sit, watch and learn.
“I’m not going to play one of those guys four or five minutes,” Sutter said. “They’re going to be here, they’re going to play or they’re going to watch and learn. Like we did with Tyler last year. We’re not going to dress those kids and put them on the bench for (all but) four or five minutes. They’re going to play, and they’re going to play in situations where they can use their ability.”
Sutter also sought to explain why it’s unlikely fans will see Toffoli, Vey and Tanner Pearson play on a line together with the Kings. Those three have formed the top line for the Manchester (N.H.) Monarchs of the American Hockey League.
“Why don’t you put them together?” Sutter said, repeating an oft-heard question. “They’re all different. They might play for three different teams before they’re all through. It’s not like they’re tied together.”
The Kings on Saturday placed forward Jeff Carter on injured reserve (retroactive to Wednesday) because of a lower-body injury. They also announced they lost defenseman Keaton Ellerby to the Winnipeg Jets, who claimed him off waivers. The Kings recalled forwards Tyler Toffoli and Linden Vey from their ECHL affiliate in Ontario, where they stashed them Friday. Toffoli and Vey participated in the Kings’ morning skate in advance of Saturday’s home game against Nashville.
So, it turns out Tanner Pearson, Linden Vey and Tyler Toffoli will play together again this season. The Kings loaned them to Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League on Sunday. Those three formed the Monarchs’ top line last season, before Toffoli was recalled by the Kings late in the lockout-shortened NHL season. They played together at times during training camp with the Kings and in exhibitions. But there was simply no room for them on the Kings’ roster, which had to be trimmed to 23 by Monday.
The Kings’ roster stood at 31 names as of Wednesday afternoon, and there aren’t likely to be any surprises when they take the ice for their season-opening game Oct. 3 against the Minnesota Wild at St. Paul, Minn. In fact, the Kings’ lineup for Tuesday’s 2-1 exhibition victory over the visiting Ducks was about what you might expect to see next week.
You never know with Kings coach Darryl Sutter, who might change his mind at the last minute, but the lineup for Friday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver could look a little something like this:
Goaltenders: Martin Jones, Ben Scrivens, J.F. Berube.
Forwards: Andy Andreoff, Marc-Andre Cliche, Kyle Clifford, Colin Fraser, Dwight King, Brandon Kozun, Jordan Nolan, Tanner Pearson, Nick Shore, Tyler Toffoli, Linden Vey, Justin Williams.
Defenseman: Andrew Bodnarchuk, Keaton Ellerby, Alec Martinez, Colin Miller, Willie Mitchell, Jake Muzzin, Jeff Schultz, Slava Voynov.