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Los Angeles Kings @ Buffalo Sabres Game 32 Running Diary: Moral Victories

Tonight’s modified running diary is sponsored by my iPhone which allows me to watch Game 32 on Fox Sports Go. SPOILER ALERT: If you’re a fan or proponent of Willie Desjardins, I can almost guarantee you that you won’t like this recap. As a matter of fact if my wanton bias and dislike of the interim coach offends, you might want to click ahead to the Off-Day Watch that Sarah does so well. Anyway, I’m excited with the hope that the optics of a back-to-back road game will look better on a 4.7” screen rather than a 50” 4K television. Here’s to believing!

First Period

Oh geez Willie D.! Do you shuffle the lines on purpose to avoid creating any semblance of team chemistry? You spent the first 16 games of your Kings interim coaching career screwing with all of the lines and stubbornly leaving a career fourth liner in the second line and a point-a-game player on the fourth line. Now, you keep messing with the D-pairings. The result tonight was a penalty less than a minute in because Drew Doughty barely knows Fantenberg’s first name is Oscar. Please just stop already.

Kings 1. Sabres 0.

A mad scramble to the side of the Buffalo is freed by Iafallo and Kopitar feeds a beauty of a one-timer by Jake Muzzin. Kings score first. The goal is immediately followed by Jim shilling for Willie Desjardins, crediting his coaching for his demand for a more creative attack mentality to goal scoring. I love you Jim, but enough about the perceived positives about Willie D. He’s horrible. Just say it out loud. It’s the first step to recovery.

Jack Hughes

Patrick O’Neal just spent a minute talking about Jack Hughes having Connor McDavid skills. All of this is music to our ears. Even the Kings broadcasters are catching Hughes Fever.

Snake Bitten

Tyler Toffoli still can’t score. He’s a chance-generating machine but hasn’t scored in a dozen games. I’ll miss you in black and white, Tyler.

Shenanigans

I think Dion Phaneuf must lead the league in stick whacks on opposing players after the whistle. He’s skating with Muzzin, which means this is poor Jake’s third skating partner tonight.

Kings 1. Sabres 1.

You don’t say this often, but Doughty gets himself into a bad position facilitating an unassisted combo steal/rooftop goal by Zemgus Girgensons.

Special Teams Failure #1

Kings waste their second power play with a too many men penalty. I try so hard to be positive, really I do…

End of Period.

Jack Eichel’s hands are frozen tonight. He cost himself three prime scoring chances already. Kings are extremely lucky that it’s not 3-1.

Kings on a pace to give up 48 shots tonight. Note to Willie D.: Introduce your D-Men to each other during the intermission.

Nonetheless the score is tied and the Kings are looking for a strong second frame.

Second Period

Kings 2. Sabres 1.

After Eichel loses control of the puck, Matt Luff fields a blooper out of the air (courtesy of Muzzin), beats Rasmus Dahlin and is now third on the Kings in goals. That’s six in 18 games.

Practice Makes Perfect

Jim reports that Willie D. says that when the Kings practice—limited as it is—that they respond very well and put what they learn right into the game. Uh, so many things to say here. Stay positive, stay positive.

Where’s Drew?

He’s not on the bench. Not available for the power play. Now we find out he’s suffered an upper body injury and his return is doubtful. Are you kidding me? (The Twitter beats the broadcasters with the news).

Kings 3. Buffalo 1.

Despite three slashes, a jersey grab, and a Sabre draped on his back, Adrian Kempe wills the puck into the back of the net. That’s the Adrian his dad wanted us to see in the Arizona game! Great effort.

Then thirty seconds later, here comes the “creative goal” talk from Alex this time. Yep, Willie D. is the genius here. Oh geez…

End of Period.

Kings shorthanded, looking to steal one in Buffalo. Sabres lead in shots 27-25.

Third Period

Phaneuf stays back in the dressing room to start the third. Kings down to four defensemen tonight. Not. Fun.

Kings 3. Buffalo 2.

Forbort to the box. Buffalo and Eichel waste no time cashing in just seven seconds into their power play. Well, that was unexpected now wasn’t it? 16:11 seems like a very long time to hold off Buffalo at this point.

Fisticuffs

Always good to see some fight in your squad. Nate Thompson and Zach Bogosian square off. TKO to Thompson. Both will sit for a while.


NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Buffalo Sabres

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Kings 3. Buffalo 3.

The lead felt so good while it lasted, didn’t it? Hard shot from the point goes off Johan Larsson’s skate. Sabres smell blood in the water. Pushing hard

Petersen Stands Tall

One-two-three point blank stops by Petersen! Seems impossible that it’s not 4-3. Incredible ten seconds of goaltender magic midway through the third. If the Kings manage to produce anything positive in the standings tonight, remember this sequence.

Where’s the Timeout?

Hey Willie! How many times should I offer to be your timeout specialist? You’re being outshot 14-4 this period. There’s 2:38 left in the third. How about a timeout to give your four defensemen and tired forwards a quick breather? Isn’t it clear everyone is gassed?

Offensive Zone Penalty

Jeff Carter with the trip. Why, Jeff, why? The only good thing about this penalty is seeing the Obligatory Lost Willie Desjardins Look. You know the one where he mumbles to himself underneath his moustache, like so:


NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Buffalo Sabres

The Obligatory Lost Willie Desjardins Look.
Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

A timeout just seconds earlier might have calmed the storm. Not calling it only added gasoline to the fire. Ugh.

End of Period.

Needless penalty by Fantenberg with four seconds left in the game will send Buffalo to the power play to start overtime. Not. Great.

Kings outshot 16-4 in the third and 43-29 for the game. Also. Not. Great.

One much needed point earned for the Kings. Some way. Somehow. Pretty. Great.

Overtime

Timeout – Kings

One minute, two seconds into overtime and the Kings call a timeout. This is crucial so they can get organized and get Fantenberg out of the box. Make the most of it boys.

Buffalo 4. Kings 3.

All that timeout produced was a lost faceoff where Buffalo was able to setup their power play. Jeff Skinner grabs the juice open net rebound off a broken play. Why wouldn’t he? He’s done that all year. Kopitar and Muzzin too tired to beat Skinner to that rebound.

Epilogue

Guts but no glory tonight for the Kings. They gave it their all. Most in the locker room won’t be happy, but I’m sure they will take the moral victory.

Tip of the hat to Cal Petersen (stood on his head all night) and Muzzin (30:35 TOI and the leader of the Four Horsemen tonight). You have to wonder what the heck Willie D. was thinking of all game, especially in the third. With the Kings obviously on low fuel on the second night of a back-to-back, and down to four defensemen, he chooses to shorten his bench. Luff gets less than ten minutes despite scoring a goal, while Austin Wagner and Mike Amadio logged around 6 minutes each.

More Notes to Willie D.: Instead of playing Anze Kopitar 27 minutes (wow, what is this, an elimination playoff game?), put Amadio on Eichel for a while and maybe Captain Jack wouldn’t have registered 10 shots on goal. Ten! You’re killing our only remaining good players with how you play them. Enough is enough.

NEXT: The Kings play at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.

QUOTES:

DESJARDINS:

“We had a couple shots at ‘em, but overall, it’s back-to-back, you’re playing with four D, you’ve got a young guy in, so it was a very good effort from our whole team and all the guys battled tonight.”

MUZZIN:

“It’s four D on the second leg of a back-to-back. It’s a tough haul. I thought the D battled hard, maybe a little tired in the third and took some penalties and they capitalized on one in overtime. Frustrating loss, man. 3-1 going into the third, we’ve got to start finding ways to win hockey games.”

PETERSEN:

“We obviously had a 3-1 lead going into the third and they were able to get a lot of momentum and unfortunately we lost it at the end, but I thought our D battled tremendously. Obviously being down two defensemen for almost half the game, so on that side of things it’s encouraging, but for only one point for the position that we were in, it’s unacceptable.”

LARSSON:

”We were not happy [after the second period]. We can’t play like that. We were sloppy, we gave up good opportunities. We had a good talk and it was huge for us to come back.”

CONDENSED GAME:

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