LOS ANGELES — Ryan Smyth, Michal Handzus, Anze Kopitar and Andrei Loktionov scored a goal each to lead the Los Angeles Kings to a sloppy 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in front of 17,769 fans at Staples Center on October 20.
Smyth opened the scoring at 5:43 of the first period finishing off a play that saw Smyth and line mates Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams all driving hard to the front of the net.
But the Kings were very sloppy throughout the first and second periods. Whether it was the result of fanning on a pass, failing to keep the puck in the attacking zone at the point, or just coughing up the puck, the Hurricanes were the grateful recipients of a considerable number of outnumbered attacks and many chances off the rush.
Hurricanes right wing Chad LaRose scored off just such a chance at the 7:31 mark, getting a wide open chance off the rush from the lower left circle after Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell’s clearing pass was intercepted in the neutral zone.
Center Eric Staal gave the ’Canes a 2-1 lead at the 17:46 mark, capitalizing on Kings defenseman Jack Johnson’s failure to hold the puck in the Carolina zone at left point. Staal flew past him, giving the ’Canes a three-on-one break. Staal skated down right wing and from the right face-off dot, ripped a wrist shot past Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier, beating him just over his right leg pad.
Handzus tied the game, 2-2, at the 19:51 mark, deflecting a shot by right wing Wayne Simmonds from the left circle after the shot was first deflected by left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Just prior to that, Kings star defenseman Drew Doughty was carrying the puck into the Carolina zone with speed. As he crossed the blue line, he was hit hard by Hurricanes left wing Erik Cole.
Doughty finished his shift, but skated to the bench with some difficulty. He did not return due to an undisclosed upper body injury, which is thought to be a concussion.
Kopitar scored his first goal of the season to give the Kings a 3-2 lead at 6:58 of the second period after he fired a wrist shot from the left circle. Right wing Dustin Brown made the goal possible after leveling a ’Canes defenseman in the left corner, creating a turnover.
At the 14:39 mark, rookie forward Jeff Skinner, a 2010 draft pick, scored off a rebound to tie the game, 3-3. Carolina defenseman Anton Babchuk fired a shot from right point that was deflected before getting to Bernier, who made the glove save, but could not catch it because of the deflection.
Loktionov closed out the scoring just 3:19 into the third period when he banked the puck off Carolina goaltender Justin Peters’ stick, beating him between his leg pads.
The goal was Loktionov’s first NHL goal and point.
The ’Canes came at the Kings in waves the rest of the way, but Bernier, who did not look confident in the first and second periods, looked like a totally different goaltender in the third. He made it all look easy in the third period when he stopped 15 shots.
Back to the hit on Doughty…
Although the hit appeared to be shoulder-to-shoulder, Cole may have made contact with Doughty’s head. Also, it may have been a blind side hit. The one available angle on the Fox Sports West broadcast that captured the hit was clearly not focused on the play, as Doughty had already passed the puck. As such, the quality of the video was poor, and did not conclusively show if there was contact with Doughty’s head or if it was a blind side hit. In any case, the Fox Sports West video may not provide enough conclusive evidence the league could use to even consider supplementary discipline in this matter.
Doughty, who was reportedly walking around and talking after the game, will not make the trip with the Kings to Phoenix, where they face the Coyotes on October 21, but could join the team later on the five-game road trip.
- The Kings’ 4-1-0 record matches the best five-game start in franchise history. The Kings have been 4-1-0 five other times, most recently, last season). They also started 3-0-2 in the 1967-68 season.
- The Kings are now 60-27-10 when Kopitar scores a goal.
- Smyth has six points in the last three games (three goals, three assists). He had eight points in the first five games last season (four goals, four assists).
- Williams has four points in the last three games (goal, three assists).
- Stoll has four points in the last three games (two goals, two assists).
- Kopitar has points in four straight games (goal, four assists).
- Handzus won 16 of 20 face-offs in the game.
- The Kings have killed 21 of 23 penalties in their first five games (91.3 percent) and have killed 13 straight penalties.
- Kings defenseman Matt Greene, who has been recovering from off-season shoulder surgery, has been medically cleared to resume full hockey activities. He will travel with the team on their current five-game road trip and is expected to return to the lineup sometime during the trip.
Raw Audio Interviews (edited to remove extraneous material and dead air):
Jonathan Bernier (2:43)
Anze Kopitar (1:47)
Rob Scuderi (1:01)
Terry Murray (12:01)
Game Highlights From NHL Video On YouTube
Video clip of Cole’s hit on Doughty
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