Following a vengeful win against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, Mar.16, the Kings and Coyotes played two games in a row against each other in Los Angeles, and the Kings have plenty of reasons to be thankful to the Coyotes. It was two evenings of firsts.
1. Conn Smythe winning goalie Jonathan Quick hasn’t had the same success this season that he had last year. He has allowed far more goals than normal in too many games. Trade rumors were rampant regarding backup goalie Jonathan Bernier prior to the start of the season, but he has been been a goal-saver and a lifesaver for the Kings. Quick is working to get back to his playoff status (along with the rest of the team). However, on Monday night, Phoenix played their third-straight game where they were unable to score and offered Quick his first (and long-anticipated) shutout of the season. The final score was 4-0.
2. The Kings hot new rookie, Tyler Toffoli, was called up from their AHL affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs . A couple days into the job, he scored his first NHL goal in his second game with the team and earned the third star of the evening. The 20-year-old has not once looked out of place since he started playing with the big boys. It is early in his NHL career, but it looks like he is right where he should be. Whether or not he will be able to stay on the active roster or get sent back to Manchester is yet to be seen, but he has a great future in front of him.
3. The top earner for the Kings, Drew Doughty, has had to spend this season filling holes that would ideally be filled by Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell. That means he is spending a lot of time in front of the net in the Kings zone and not as much time taking shots in the offensive zone as he has been able to in the past. Quick owed his shutout, in part, to a beautiful save Doughty made on a shot taken by Coytoes Raffi Torres in the second period of Monday night’s game. Still, not being able to take many shots has been source of frustration for the defenseman because he had yet to score a goal at all this year. That ended during Tuesday’s game, when he slapped a puck so hard that it hit the back of the net and bounced out to hit Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith in the head, much to the delight of fans.
Tuesday also marked the first of four games in which the Coyotes were able to score. Captain Shane Doan got two shots in during the last half of the final period. Kings goalie Bernier was able to stop 40 other shots, however, and the Kings took the game 3-2.
L.A.’s success Monday and Tuesday takes a little bit of the sting away from last night’s shutout against Dallas in which the only goals scored were by Stars nearly geriatric veterans Jaromir Jagr and Ray Whitney. Experience clearly beat youth. The loss put an end to the Kings three-game winning streak at home. They will have a chance to finish the homestretch out with a win when they play the Vancouver Canucks in an early afternoon game on Mar. 23.