Ottawa Senators Ruin Anze Kopitar's Afternoon, Beat L.A. Kings 5-3
On the day that Kopitar's extension was made official, the Sens eked out the win.
On an afternoon on which Anze Kopitar should've been the story, the Senators spoiled the party. The Senators-Kings game was preceded by the official announcement of Kopitar's eight-year, $80-million extension that had been known for almost a week before the team announced it. (At least terms of the deal were officially released by the Kings.) And though the Kings probably deserved to win, the Sens took him a much-needed victory.
The first period was one of quick sticks by the Sens. Mark Stone broke up a near-breakaway by Jeff Carter by tapping his stick at the right moment. A sneaky takeaway in the offensive zone led to Shane Prince drawing the game's first penalty, a holding call on Brayden McNabb. Mika Zibanejad pick-pocketed Drew Doughty in front of the Kings' net for a decent scoring opportunity. Mike Hoffman was definitely wishing for the end of the period, since he bobbled the puck on his stick at least three times when he was trying to take a shot. The Kings' best player of the period was clearly Jeff Carter. After his initial breakaway, he also had a great chance on a one-timer in front of the net but was probably too close to Craig Anderson's pads to get a good tip on goal. He drew an interference penalty on Kyle Turris, and then on the ensuing powerplay nearly had a tap-in into an empty net but Cody Ceci swept it away at the last moment. He was buzzing long before he got the Kings on the board.
Ottawa thought they had a goal with five minutes left in the period, but video replay confirmed that the puck was pinned against the post by Jonathan Quick's skate:
DON’T. MOVE. pic.twitter.com/7VRHFcWajB— LA Kings (@LAKings) January 16, 2016
Just when you thought the period would end without a goal, the Kings scored on a delayed penalty. Ex-Ottawa 67 Tyler Toffoli drew a holding penalty by holding the puck along the side wall with Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris trying to dig it out. With six skaters, Toffoli got a chance for a one-timer that he shanked straight to Carter down low, who shot it short-side on Anderson for the lead. You'd like to see Anderson stop it, but as replay showed, he had to get set for a couple of fake slapshots before Toffoli's accidental fake, which meant he couldn't quite recover to shut down Carter's angle.
The first period was not Hoffman's period, but the second was definitely not Turris's. He had a good opportunity to score but was foiled by a quick whistle. He took his second penalty of the game, a needless hooking call against Dustin Brown. The resulting penalty kill led to the Kings' second goal of the game, the first goal for the team by Vincent Lecavalier. Christian Ehrhoff bobbled the puck entering the zone, but managed to flip it in front, and the puck fell to Lecavalier who roofed it over a sprawling Anderson. Penalties became a talking point for the Sens in the period too. After Turris's, Mike Hoffman took a holding call against Dustin Brown. Not long after the Sens killed that, Erik Karlsson held up Toffoli on a clean break, leading to a penalty shot. Toffoli deked backhand-shelf, but Anderson got his stick on the puck and deflected it away. Without Andy's saves, the game could easily have been out of reach.
The Sens may have had quick sticks in the first, but they didn't have quick anything in the second. They ended up being outshot 18-5, and looked like every other breakout attempt failed. When the Sens were needing some luck to get back into the game, Alex Chiasson and Curtis Lazar intercepted an attempted clear. Lazar's shot pulled Quick wide, and the rebound fell to Chiasson in the slot who had no coverage and a wide-open net to tap it into. The Sens nearly scored right after, when Mika Zibanejad hit the post. Unfortunately, the break the Kings got out of that play led to the Hoffman penalty.
The second period ended with a good representation of the whole period for the Sens. The Kings cycled the puck in the Sens' zone for nearly two full minutes, but the Sens got lucky in that Jordan Nolan took an interference penalty to end the play before they could score. Ottawa was down 26-12 in shots after two periods and was very lucky to be down by only a goal.
The third period was one that would frustrate me so much if I were a Kings fan. Things started off well with the team killing off the penalty, then scoring an early goal to take a two-goal lead. Milan Lucic fought off some hits by Mark Borowiecki to throw a pass in front to a wide-open Toffoli who put it past Anderson. Both Marc Methot and Turris covered Kopitar, and Mark Stone left Toffoli as if he expected Methot cover him, which left him all alone in front. But the Sens clawed back with two quick goals. First a Karlsson point shot was stopped, but Zibanejad got the rebound, faked shot, and then passed it to Bobby Ryan who stuffed it into a wide-open net. Just 26 seconds later, Jean-Gabriel Pageau followed Jake Muzzin into the zone and scored. It's hard to tell what exactly happened, but in replay it looks like Muzzin tried to clear the puck, but Pageau swung his stick at the puck which directed it five-hole on Quick and into the net. Despite being outplayed, the Sens had tied the game. Things got even worse for the hosts as Nick Shore took a high-sticking double minor against Prince. The Kings successfully killed the first half of the powerplay, but the Sens scored later in the PP thanks to Milan Michalek holding the zone. He flipped it to Cody Ceci, he passed it to Ryan, and he found Zibanejad with a beautiful pass. Z-bad then snapped home a beautiful shot that beat Quick high although he was moving out in a hurry to cut off the angle.
The Kings would then fail to do much of anything with the rest of the period. The Sens' forecheck got aggressive and didn't let the Kings exit their own zone a lot. Why can't Ottawa always play like that? There was even a great moment when Quick tried to head for the bench with 90 seconds left, but Turris got the puck at centre and snapped it back on goal. Quick had stayed behind, and stopped it at the hashmarks. The Kings did finally pull their goalie, but they couldn't get much zone time. Zack Smith looked to have iced the game skating in on an open net, but he mishandled the pass and put himself offside. Thankfully, Mark Borowiecki threw the puck off the boards in the dying seconds, and it caromed around and into the empty net. That one goal ties his career-high for goals, set in 2013-14 and tied in 2014-15.
Sens Heroes: Mika Zibanejad and Bobby Ryan
Let's be real, nobody had a great game today. You can't have an iffy first, a really bad second, and a good final ten-minutes of the game and expect to win. But any win has heroes, and this one was orchestrated by Z-bad and Ryan. The former found the latter for the goal to bring Ottawa back within one, and the latter found the former for a beautiful powerplay goal that ended up being the game-winner.
Honourable Mention: Craig Anderson
A .909 isn't spectacular, but he held his team in the game when they were terrible in the second. Without Andy, we all would've packed it in before the third. With Andy, the team hung around long enough to win.
Notable Stat: Mark Borowiecki
Did you know he was Ottawa's best possession defenceman on the night? That's a little bit ridiculous. He topped that off with a goal, which makes it that much more ridiculous. Credit where credit is due.
Dishonourable Mentions: Kyle Turris and Mike Hoffman
Nothing was going right for these guys. They combined for three minor penalties and about 17 whiffs on the puck. Both are great players and everybody has an unlucky game every now and then, so I'm not worried long-term. But I wouldn't recommend either puts this game on their highlight reels.