Canadiens at Kings: Thank God For Playoff Marian Gaborik!
Kings: 4, Canadiens: 3 (SO)
In hosting the East-leading Montreal Canadiens on their second half of a back to back, the Kings had the advantage of facing a potentially tired team, but also one that had lost both of its games in California, with only one measly goal to show for it. They would be hungry.
But then, they weren’t.
The Kings came out with a solid push, notching a goal on their early power play, and then doubling up their lead halfway through the period off of a pretty sick pass from Dustin Brown to a net-driving Jeff Carter.
In fact, the period ended with the Kings outshooting Montreal 13-2. Two. One of which came in the last second of the period. All seemed well. With all the teams the Kings needed to lose already securing their own victories, the Kings would at least keep pace with two points against a good team.
The first half of the second period featured a bevy of chances for the Kings, including multiple breakaways where they tried to get a little too fancy instead of just shooting the puck. Jeff Carter hit iron. The Canadiens still had an embarrassingly low amount of shots on goal. In fact, the Montreal fans sitting next to me were simply wishing for just one goal — one small moment of joy in a night of frustration. The game was the Kings to lose.
And so, of course, lose it they did. Very immobile defenseman Tom Gilbert channeled his inner Bobby Orr, cutting to the net from the goal line and tucking the puck past Quick. Just a minute and a half later, Brendan Gallagher was left wide open to chip in a rebound. And despite the Kings outshooting the Canadiens 21-9 after two periods, it was all tied up. The Montreal fans who were desperate for just one measly thing to cheer about, suddenly felt a little cocky.
Long story short, tied entering the third period, the Kings of course allowed Montreal to take the lead, because that’s their thing now. Max Pacioretty was left unmarked to chip a pass off of a somewhat nothing play past Quick, whose save percentage took a massive hit. It was by no means a good game from him, but the goals from Montreal were complete defensive breakdowns.
Tyler Toffoli hit a post, there were a few goal mouth scrambles, but nothing was going in, and it seemed another game the Kings were destined to choke away.
And then, Lars Eller decided to whack Doughty in the face with his stick, the Kings pulled Quick on their subsequent power play to create a 6-on-4, and Marian Gaborik, he of one goal in his last eighteen games, scored his second of the night with under one minute remaining in regulation, replacing the media’s “collapsing” headlines into ones of “late game heroics.”
It also gifted us with the long-absent Jake Muzzin goal face, so really, it was heroic on multiple accounts.
2 points. pic.twitter.com/XlLR9f6rYy
— LA Kings (@LAKings) March 6, 2015
You would think Muzzin actually scored the goal himself.
The Kings finally scored in a shootout (three times!!!), their first such goals in 22 attempts, which is a stat that will never not be shocking. For continuity’s sake, they gave up their 2-0 lead in the skills competition, but despite Jonathan Quick’s best efforts, won anyway. Thanks, crossbar!
Marian Gaborik, with his two goals and shootout tally, was the undisputed first star of the game, waking up from his long slumber just in time to be everyone’s favorite playoff hero.
Well, this is awkward.
Don’t let Darryl Sutter hear you call the remaining games “must win,” though. Because they aren’t.
What a relief.