I was perhaps a bit too excited when I sat down to watch the Rangers play the Kings last night. It was the Kings home opener, and the Rangers were looking for their first win of the season. The Rangers had only played one game, and were beaten by the Coyotes 4-1 last Thursday.
With plenty of rest between games, Alain Vigneault and the Rangers traveled to L.A. to continue their nine game road trip that includes three games in California in four days. Not the easiest of tasks, but the Rangers came to play on Monday night.
The game would feature the league’s two best goaltenders (in my opinion), making it an obvious must watch. The Kings came out with some pep in their step, being it was their home opener, the Staples Center was ready to go. And yes, the Kings still use that God awful “Go Kings go!” chant led by Eric Cartman for any of you wondering. Just a side thought here, but wouldn’t that make more sense for the Aves to use? Seeing how South Park takes place in Colorado? Whatever, that’s beside the point.
The Kings looked good early, but the transition in the neutral zone was less than spectacular. Turnovers led to scoring opportunities both ways throughout the game, but it only took 13 minutes and some change for Rick Nash and Brad Richards to jump on the opportunity and put the puck in the back of the net.
A turnover in the neutral zone is a dangerous thing, and when the Kings made the mistake, Rick Nash jumped in on a two on one with Richards, took the shot, the rebound came right to Richards, who made a great play, putting the puck from his skates to his stick, and burying the shot from the right goal line.
Turnovers would continue to be the story in the second period, as the Kings once again turned the puck over in the neutral zone, and led to another Brad Richards goal. Richards attempting to make a pass, put the puck off of defenseman Slava Voynov‘s stick and through Quick’s legs to give the Kings the 2-0 lead. Nash recorded his second assist of the night on the quirky play.
The Kings bounced back and scored one of their own on a 4 on 4 play, where the Rangers over committed to one side of the ice, and left Jake Muzzin open for the pass from Mike Richards. Muzzin made no mistake in putting the puck in the net on a beautiful shot, and just like that the Kings had life once again.
Every year, there’s always at least one weird play made by a goaltender that leaves everyone in the building shaking their head. Last season, it was Cam Ward botching the dump in from center ice, and letting it go between his legs. This year, it was Jonathan Quick. Quick came out to the left of the net to stop the puck on a dump while the Kings were on the powerplay, and the puck deflected off his blocker and slid right into the net.
Quick was able to bounce back and make some nice saves the rest of the night, but the Kings were unable to really ever get the puck out of their end once the five minute mark hit. The aggressive forechecking of the Rangers kept the puck from ever getting through the neutral zone and the Rangers skated their way to a 3-1 victory ruining the Kings opening night.
Quick made 25 saves on 28 shots, and Lundqvist made 28 saves on 29 shots. Lundqvist got the better of Quick in the matchup of the best goalies in the NHL, but this won’t be the last time the two teams meet this season. November 17th, the Kings will be in New York looking to redeem themselves after last nights loss.