If there were ever an example of the first shift of the game deciding things, this game would have it. The Penguins came into Staples Center like bats out of Hell. Bortuzzo wrecked someone. And when Evgeni Malkin scored 57 seconds in, the Kings were stunned, and they never truly recovered.
Even though the Kings are struggling, there was a different feel to the Penguins’ game. You could tell they wanted to prove a point. And prove it they did.
As always, there were a few narratives to this game.
1. Jeff Zatkoff starting
Starting Zatkoff, a former King farmhand, came as a surprise. But the move paid off. Zatkoff didn't have to do a ton, and he was solid. His start most likely had something to do with Bylsma wanting all roster players to start during the Moms trip.
2. Kris Letang scratched
Word broke just before game time that Letang was scratched. This was cause for some speculation. But it was debunked on the Penguins radio broadcast by Mike Lange. Lange said that he spoke to Letang, and Letang said if he had to play, he would have, but he wanted to be 100%. </rumor>
Bylsma got a good look at Jonathan Quick. In the post-game, Bylsma basically scoffed at the notion that this performance would have any bearing on his goaltending choices in the Olympics, and that’s true.
No joke -- these two can play. We’ve given them a ton of shit on here, but they’re starting to grow on us. Not only do Gibbons and Megna have the speed to play in the NHL, they both have the skill. Go look at the move Gibbons made on Drew Doughty to draw a penalty. Supreme NHL move. As the trade deadline nears, don't be surprised if Ray Shero decides to ride or die with these two being mixed and matched up and down the lineup.
Bortuzzo set the pace by laying out a King early. Jesus.
Rule number one: Don’t leave any two of Jokinen-Neal-Malkin alone in front of the net with one defender. Less than 2 minutes in, the Kings did just that. Neal was up in the slot, turned around and whipped one to the net. Rebound went to Jokinen, who fed Malkin with an underrated pass. Malkin dunked it home. 1-0.
So many great sad Kings fans' faces.
Such a streaky line, but when they are clicking, it is almost unstoppable.
Kunitz went off for hooking. About 2 seconds into that, Anze Kopitar answered Malkin’s goal with a ripper from the point. What a shot. 1-1.
What was Brandon Sutter thinking? He broke his stick and then ran away from Anze Kopitar.
Then came this:
Something we can’t ever recall seeing. Malkin drew two penalties basically at the same exact time. Each ref lit up each King, so the Pens had a 5-on-3.
They definitely didn’t waste it. First was some tic-tac-toe passing from Crosby to Jokinen and then to Kunitz. 2-1.
The Pens still had a 5-on-4, and they scored again. Jokinen capped off his legendary first period with a great snapshot that beat Quick. 3-1.
Teams exchanged power plays at the end of the period. The Kings had their backs to the wall on that PP, and they killed it.
Jonny Quick was on the bench to start the second. Martin Jones was in.
Not many scoring opportunities in the first 10 minutes, but the Kings were starting to get closer to Zatkoff.
Business picked up in the second half. Tanner Glass extended his good-game streak to three when he scored on a beauty of a backhand. Let’s not lose ourselves; that’s a stoppable shot, and Martin Jones shit his pants. Glass put it in the perfect place. 4-1.
The goal pretty much wiped out the Kings and their fans.
Pens had 4 goals on only 14 shots.
The Pens shut things down, and the Kings were drowning. The Kings had some life with two power plays in the third, but the Penguins’ PK was too good.
Best thing from the third was this:
Also fun to hear the home team get booed.
- Unlimited Penguin fans in LA. Nice "Let's Go Pens" chant at the end of the game.
- Pretty lifeless game after the Tanner Glass goal.