At one point this season the Los Angeles Kings were on top of the Western Conference. As of today, they are fighting for every last point they can earn to keep their playoff position.
The Kings most recently played a home and home series against conference rival Colorado. The young Avalanche have been quite impressive this season. A team that made one move to solidify a competitive season during the off-season were not slated to be a lock for the playoffs.
Craig Anderson has provided a season of excellence from his post between the pipes for the Avs thus helping them hold, currently, the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoff race.
Their recent nemesis, the Kings, sit in fifth with just one point separating the two.
Both teams were able to earn three points during the home and home outings.
The Kings took the first game by a final of 4-3 in overtime. Two points for the good guys however giving a point to the bad guys was not something that was part of the agenda.
Colorado’s Chris Stewart opened up the scoring in the first period to put the Avalanche up 1-0. Stewart has stepped up for the Avs this year and is having quite the impressive season.
A little over two minutes later, Ryan Smyth would tie things up for the Kings who were unable to muster together a decent offensive attack during the first.
Both teams went to the locker rooms knotted at one and both teams only registered four shots on goal. Tension on the ice knowing how costly one little mistake could be during this contest.
As the second period was winding down, the offense was at a minimum. Then Wayne Simmonds found the puck on his stick at the 15:41 mark, netting his 16th goal of the season to put the Kings up 2-1. And that’s how the period would end.
The third period saw some offensive fireworks.
Peter Mueller, who the Avs acquired along with Kevin Porter at the trade deadline in a deal with Phoenix that would send Wojtek Wolski out to the desert, tied the game 2-2 with his ninth goal of the year; his fifth as a player for the Avalanche.
Smyth would net his second of the game at the 9:55 mark of the third to put the Kings up 3-2. This goal looked to seal the victory for the Kings who were preparing to count down the final ten seconds on the clock and skate away with two points.
For the Avalanche, TJ Galiardi had other ideas. Galiardi was able to find a hole in Kings netminder Jonathan Quick with ten seconds left to tie the game at three and force overtime.
Both teams earned crucial points in the tight rope playoff race.
But one point was still up for grabs; a point that both teams would desperately fight for.
Drew Doughty, who is still smiling from his Team Canada gold medal victory during the 2010 Winter Olympics, beat Avs netminder Craig Anderson for the game winner at the 3:40 mark of overtime giving the Kings the victory and the extra point.
Game one was in the books and the Kings gave the home crowd a reason to explode by taking down the Avalanche and taking one step closer to the playoffs.
The second half of the home and home had a similar outcome, except this time the roles were reversed.
The Avs welcomed the Kings to the Pepsi Center last night.
The score was identical yet the outcome opposite. You would almost think the Kings were playing based off of a scripted scenario. Of course, until they actually lose the game.
Matt Hendricks, another fine youngster stepping up and filling in for the Colorado Avalanche, opened the scoring last night.
Less than three minutes later, Anze Kopitar tied the game up for the Kings.
After Kopitar tied things up, Jonathan Quick and company fell apart for the remainder of the period.
Milan Hejduk and Paul Statsny would add goals for the Avs to put them ahead 3-1 at the end of one and that was all she wrote for Quick.
Erik Ersberg was summoned from the bench for replace Quick after Statsny’s goal. A smart move by Terry Murray to keep Quick focused and rest him a bit with the Kings travelling to St. Louis to take on the Blues tonight.
The change brought some momentum to the Kings. Although there was no scoring during the second period for either club, it was the play of Ersberg that bailed the team out to give them an opportunity heading into the third to have a fire lighted under them.
It did just that and the Kings were back to their “cardiac” ways.
A costly, late second period penalty to Scott Hannan would have the Kings open the third on the power play. It didn’t take Drew Doughty very long to cut the deficit to one goal as he netted a power player marker at the :40 second mark of the period.
As the period went on, the Avs looked to have the game in the bag. That was until Alexander Frolov would tie the game with a power play goal late in the period.
Frolov’s goal would send this one to overtime where nothing could be decided.
The Avalanche would take the extra point from the shoot out and skate to the dressing room victorious.
Tonight, the Kings look to jump on the Blues early and often as they know as well as we do just how tight the Western Conference playoff race has become.
Terry Murray will turn to youngster Jonathan Quick for tonight’s tilt.
An important two points are on the line for the Kings tonight. Which Kings squad will decide to show up?
Scott Parse will be in the line up in place of Peter Harrold.
About the Author: Anthony Curatolo is a 31 y/o New Yorker with a passion for the game that takes him into a different category then the regular run of the mill fan. He has an intense, creative, witty style that will either have you love him or hate him within the first paragraph you read from one of his writings. Growing up in a hockey world (his father was raised in Montreal, and his father brought that passion with him into the States) was a blessing in disguise for Anthony. Hockey has become more then a passion and infatuation for, and he hopes to one day have a career within the sport. Picked up originally by the Checking Line (from guest blogs written for HockeyBuzz), Anthony began blogging on a daily basis. When his original site, the checking line, went down the writing passion started to fall off. A few years later, Crash the Crease was born and Anthony was approached and asked to write for them. Since that time (August '08), Anthony has become a panel member on the websites Sunday talk show, as well as branching off and forming 1/3 of the talk show team called "The Hockey Guys!" Now Anthony takes his mind and his writings to the next level as he begins his journey with Hockey Independent and asks that there are many that join him. The Kings are the team, the style is Independent and the game is Hockey - there is nothing better in the universe. Although his pride bleeds for the Orange and Black (yes folks, the Philadelphia Flyers) Anthony is also a FAN of the game, and has knowledge for all 30 teams within the league coming from his true, pure love for the sport in it's entirety. As a voice of a fan for the fans (as we all know is the "Crash the Crease" and "The Hockey Guys" slogans) there will be debate, controversy, praise and love all combined into one giant thing - blogs by Anthony.