The LA Kings defeated the New York Rangers 3-1 tonight at the Staples Center, snapping a four-game losing skid. Though, the Kings are still sitting at the bottom of the Western Conference, far away from the playoff zone.
“It wasn’t pretty by any means, but I think that is how we have to win sometimes,” said LA’s coach Todd McLellan following the event. “We checked our buts off, and got some really good goaltending when we needed it.”
The Rangers were better in the opening period, but the Kings had Jonathan Quick in front of the net. The home team’s goalie posted 14 saves in that period, not allowing the visitors to reach the lead.
“He was great tonight… Playing in front of him is really easy. We enjoy playing for him,” said Joakim Ryan, Kings’ defenseman.
Though we need to say that Henrik Lundqvist, on the other side, did a solid job with 10 saves, but 11 seconds before the end of the frame, he conceded a goal that erased all of his previous productivity.
He was beaten by Dustin Brown, who scored a nice goal from a tough position. However, it feels that the Rangers’ goalie could have reacted better regarding the entire situation, which preceded the shot.
It was the situation which gave the swing to the Kings, who struck in the best possible moment. Meanwhile, the Rangers were in a knockdown, and that kept on throughout the second period when they posted just 5 shots towards the rivals’ net. Of course, McLellan’s side didn’t pass on that gift, doubling the lead at 13:22 of the period.
It was Tyler Toffoli’s seventh goal of the season, and it came after a tap in, following Mat Roy’s shot. The 27-year old was supposed to be one of the Kings’ most lethal weapons this season. Yet, he still didn’t reach the desired form.
“I feel like there’s a general consensus that, I know that I need to play better,” said Toffoli, who has 15 points in 31 games. “I accept that … and I thought I did it tonight.”
Usually, silent Staples Center became much more lively after this score, as the fans had a chance to enjoy Kings’ confident play. And that is something rare this season.
However, the finish of the final sequence made them a bit frightened, as Rangers managed to cut down their deficit 30 seconds before the end. Brown was penalized for tripping, and he had to go out. Artemi Panarin scored a power-play goal in the situation when his team had two players more on the ice, after pulling out the goalie.
“It was a good team game… Structure was strong, played well with the lead, checked with the legs, didn’t take many penalties”
— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) December 11, 2019
The Rangers tried to use the same recipe in the remaining time, but instead of scoring, quite the opposite happened – they conceded a goal.
It was Adrian Kempe who sealed the game with 15 seconds to go on an empty-netter. Finally, the Kings’ fans could relax and start celebrating.
LA (12-18-2) now has a clash against the local rivals, the Anaheim Ducks this Thursday. It is the first of six straight road games they will play over the next 10 days. After that, McLellan’s guys travel to Pittsburgh, Detroit, Boston, Columbus and in the end, Buffalo.
On the other side, the Rangers (15-12-3) are in the middle of a four-game trip through the West. After beating the Vegas Golden Knights this Sunday, 5-0, this was the first loss they’ve experienced in the previous three games played away from the Madison.
Up next, NYR faces the San Jose Sharks this Thursday, before going to Anaheim the night after.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.