Kings’ supporting cast stars in 6-3 victory over Ottawa
By Helene Elliott, Los Angeles Times
The Kings confirmed Thursday they will play host to the NHL entry draft in June. If they continue at their current pace, they won’t have a lottery pick because they’ll be among the playoff teams.
Their support players again stood tall during the absences of winger Ryan Smyth and defenseman Rob Scuderi and the scoring slumps enveloping Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, doing the grunt work in a 6-3 victory over the Ottawa Senators before an announced crowd of 14,997 at Staples Center.
Defenseman Randy Jones, right wing Wayne Simmonds — on a penalty shot — and suddenly hot winger Brad Richardson scored goals before stud defenseman Drew Doughty one-timed a blast past Brian Elliott late in the second period to give the Kings a 4-3 lead. Justin Williams gave them breathing room late in the third, scoring off an Ottawa turnover and again from close range.
“Guys are coming, not out of nowhere, but guys that aren’t usually goal scorers or point-getters are working hard and they stepped up to the plate,” Doughty said.
In boosting the Kings to their third straight triumph and fourth in their last five, Simmonds scored on the first penalty shot of his career and extended his point streak to five games. Richardson, who broke a 23-month goal drought Tuesday, fashioned a two-game goal streak by flicking home a rebound at 3:51 of the second period to give the Kings a 3-1 lead.
Reminded of his long wait between goals, Richardson laughed. “Thanks for bringing that up,” he said. “That’s the way sometimes it goes. Last year was a tough year with injuries and not as much playing time, but this year I’m playing a lot and that helps a lot.”
The Senators pulled even at 11:32 of the middle period, but Doughty — enjoying his final teenage days before he turns 20 next week — broke the tie with his seventh goal, one more than he recorded as a precocious rookie last season.
Doughty was chosen second overall by the Kings in 2008. In the next draft, to be held at Staples Center on June 25-26, they will have a much later pick if they pull out more wins such as this.
Brown’s goal drought hit 12 and Kopitar’s hit 11, but their teammates picked up the slack as Kings Coach Terry Murray defeated the team that employs his older brother, Bryan, as its general manager.
“Someone’s got to step up when some of the key guys go out,” Richardson said.
And they did.
The Kings scored on their first shot at Elliott. Williams took the puck from Daniel Alfredsson in his own zone and passed to Alexander Frolov, who zipped up the left side. Frolov left a drop pass for Jones, who jumped up and scored on a 30-foot wrist shot.
The Senators matched that at 11:13, during a power play. Chris Phillips, at the left point, passed to the right to Ryan Shannon. The puck went off the boards but Shannon corralled it and shot it on net. Before it got there, Mike Fisher redirected it past Jonathan Quick.
Simmonds got the penalty shot at 17:24 after he was pulled down on a breakaway by defenseman Filip Kuba. He coolly skated toward Elliott, shifted from his forehand to his backhand a few times and skated below the hash marks before shooting the puck between the goalie’s pads.
After squandering a lengthy power play, the Kings extended their lead to 3-1 at 3:51.
Jack Johnson began the play with a fine pass from behind his own net to Richardson. He passed to the right side to Dustin Brown, who took the puck to the net. Elliott stopped Brown’s shot with his left pad but Richardson poked the puck past the fallen goalie.
The Senators cut that lead to 3-2 at 7:51, while Kings enforcer Raitis Ivanans served a slashing penalty.
Jonathan Cheechoo, who has struggled since coming to Ottawa in the Dany Heatley trade, bumped Frolov off the puck, nudged it to Kelly and headed for the net. Kelly’s shot was stopped but Cheechoo slammed the rebound home for his third goal.
Ottawa pulled even at 11:32, taking advantage of the Kings’ broken concentration after Kopitar was hooked by Phillips and fell hard into the end boards. Fisher scored on a 20-foot snap shot.
Kopitar recovered fast enough to help set up the power-play goal that put the Kings ahead, 4-3, at 14:11. Jarret Stoll won a faceoff and got the puck back to Kopitar at the point. He held it before finding Doughty at the top of the left circle.
Afterward, Terry Murray expressed displeasure over his team’s spotty checking, but that was a subplot to the Kings’ overall resourcefulness. “What you have to do is find a way to get the job done and win the game,” he said.
Do that often enough and they won’t have to think about winning the lottery.