The New York Islanders stuck with the Los Angeles Kings for 57 minutes, steadily improving as their second game in two nights carried on. But a Dwight King* goal with 2:53 left just after an expired Kings power play broke a 1-1 tie, and King’s insurance goal immediately afterward proved crucial in what ended up being a 4-2 Isles loss.
We think it was King. They credited Derek Forbort, then King (who looked like he tipped it), then Forbort again. SOMEone tipped it. You know NHL official scorers.
The Kings tend to beat teams through a combination of suffocation and outright boredom, and that looked to be the case through the first half of the game as a neutral zone chess match was tilted the way of the old pros from L.A.
But once the Isles decided to actually be aggressive on the forecheck, they started to take a better percentage of the play over the second half of the game.
The Isles could reasonably argue they deserved better from this effort. Alas, that’s about the best they have to show from the first 20 games of this season.
[Game Sum | Event Sum | Natural Stat Trick | HockeyViz]
Let’s Out-Snooze Them
The Kings clearly had the better of play in the first period despite spending four minutes of it killing two Islanders power plays.
The Islanders had an early power play that netted nothing but a few broken rushes with no shots on goal, while the Kings’ aggressive penalty kill kept the Islanders from getting set up. Shortly after it expired, Casey Cizikas had a much better chance that Peter Budaj got just enough of to watch it trickle through the crease and wide.
They had another completely unconvincing power play, this one at least registering a shot on goal, but it was followed up by the Kings opening scoring at 15:34. Alec Martinez volleyed a shot from the back end of the blueline, but it was perfectly placed between Nick Leddy (possibly even getting a piece of him) and Trevor Lewis, whose screen was perfect after giving Jaroslav Halak fits in the crease.
The second period was a little better for the Islanders but changed nothing.
Their best chance at an equalizer in the second period came in the final minute when Anders Lee dug a puck out by out-muscling Derek Forbort on the forecheck and fed Alan Quine for a quick one-timer in front.
The Tide Begins to Turn
It seemed the Islanders decided to hit another gear during those final shifts of the second period, particularly with a more aggressive, concerted forecheck, and that carried over into the third.
It resulted in an equalizer just 4:27 in, with a two-man forecheck helping to force a turnover behind the Kings net. The puck went back to Travis Hamonic at the point, and his directed shot hit a scrum of bodies in front of the net.
One of them, Anders Lee, fought through to find the puck as his loosened helmet skittered across the ice thanks to the wrestling in front. He shoveled a backhander through his own legs and other wickets to tie it at 1-1.
The Isles had to kill the Kings’ first power play of the night soon after Lee’s goal, but after killing that they resumed pressing on the forecheck and putting shots on Budaj. One might dare say things even looked promising for getting a point or two out of this one.
Swift and Deadly Finish
An even higher-leverage test came late in the third when Nick Leddy was whistled for hooking after raising Jeff Carter’s stick (and getting a piece of Carter’s glove too) to nullify a golden scoring chance for Carter right in front of Halak.
A pesky, determined effort killed that penalty, but Forbort’s shot from the point found daylight and King’s stick for a deflection past Halak right as Leddy’s penalty expired.
King doubled the lead on a rebound 25 seconds later, and that was about the end of things. Jake Muzzin fully sealed things 19 seconds later with an empty-netter from center ice. (So, if you’re tracking, mark Halak as conceding three goals on 27 shots.)
Anders Lee finished things 17 seconds later with his second goal of the night to bring the score back to 4-2.
U.S. Thanksgiving is Thursday followed by an afternoon food coma in San Jose at 4 p.m. EST on Friday to finish this three-game California swing.