Indeed, the Kings were never in that game, an embarrassing 10-1 defeat on January 14, 2006, at HSBC Arena in Buffalo.
Almost two seasons later, revenge was not really on the minds of the Kings, but after bombing the Sabres in a 8-2 blowout victory in front of 15,980 fans at Staples Center on Thursday night, payback was certainly welcomed.
“It’s funny,” said Kings right wing Dustin Brown, who scored two goals and contributed an assist. “I remember our plane broke down and we had to stay in Buffalo until 4:00 PM the next day, so it was pretty miserable.”
“I think [Lubomir] Visnovsky, [Michael] Cammalleri, [Derek] Armstrong and I were here—only four of us remembered,” added Brown. “We reminded these guys not to let up because they had us in the same situation and didn’t let up on us. The guys who were here remembered that and that makes this victory sweeter for us.”
To be sure, the Kings did not let up. In fact, they kept the pressure on the Sabres from start to finish, putting in a solid effort and going for the jugular in a game—a rare sight for this team.
Cammalleri and Brown started the scoring for the Kings in the first period with goals at 3:55 and 7:53, respectively.
And when defensemen Tom Preissing and Jaroslav Modry, neither of whom have been offensive contributors of late, scored at 18:20 and 19:27, respectively, it was apparent that the stars were aligned just right for the struggling Kings.
“It’s fun to go through one of these games,” said Modry. “But on the other side, all the respect to the Sabres. They played hard. We just got all the bounces in this game. Sometimes that happens. You just have to enjoy it.”
But even if you believe that the Sabres played hard, they certainly did not play smart at all, as they abandoned goaltenders Jocelyn Thibault and Ryan Miller, leaving them to fend for themselves, by and large.
Thibault got the start, allowing four goals on 14 shots in the first period.
“I made a mistake on the first goal, and that happens,” said Thibault. “I didn’t do what I had to do in the first period to keep the score as low as possible, and it just got worse. There was a lot of traffic in front of the net and it was difficult to see the puck. It was not a fun game to be in.”
Thibault was relieved by Miller to start the second period, but Miller also got no help from the Buffalo skaters, and wound up allowing four goals on 19 shots.
Despite the fact that the Sabres’ defensive effort was lacking, which might be a generous description of their play, Buffalo head coach Lindy Ruff was not happy with his goaltenders, either.
“It was just a night where we made enough mistakes and couldn’t get a goalie to make a save for us,” said Ruff.
The Kings scored three more goals in the second period, with two of them also coming from unlikely suspects.
Center Michal Handzus scored just his second goal of the season at 1:56 while the Kings were shorthanded, reaching out from behind the left goal post to knock in a rebound of Brown’s shot from the bottom of the right circle.
Center Derek Armstrong finally scored his first goal of the season at 5:45, while the Kings had a two-man advantage. Armstrong was standing at left crease when he batted in an airborne pass from Kings center Anze Kopitar, who was just outside right crease.
The Sabres got goals from Drew Stafford at 13:43, followed by Thomas Vanek at 1:20 of the third period, before Preissing scored his second goal of the game on the power play at 10:20.
For the Kings, everything worked, and they got contributions from those who had not been contributing, including Preissing, who was a healthy scratch for two games before returning to the lineup for this game, and Modry, who scored his first goal in 83 games.
“A game like that works wonders for everybody,” said Kings head coach Marc Crawford. “You could see that a weight was lifted off a number of people on our team.”
Indeed, after he scored his goal, Armstrong lifted his arms in celebration, not just because he scored, but also because he finally broke out of his season-long slump.
“It’s nice,” he said. “It’s the first time I’ve gone that long in my career without scoring a goal.”
Not contributing offensively as much as he wanted was certainly weighing on Armstrong.
To read the full story, click on: Don’t Burn Your Tape Of This One
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