Johnson's deke helps Kings eke out win

SUNRISE, FL - NOVEMBER 16: Jack Johnson #3 (center) of the Los Angeles Kings is congratulated after scoring a goal against the Florida Panthers on November 16, 2009 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)Game 22: Kings 4, Panthers 3 (shootout)

On the fifth and deciding game for the Kings on this road trip, a lot was at stake. Coming in, the Kings had split their games 2-2. A loss to the Panthers would leave a sour taste in many Kings fans' mouths, as memories would float back to last season when the club was a dismal 39 percent on the road last season. But a win would give the team a nice boost heading home.

This was also the long-awaited rematch between Anze Kopitar and Keith Ballard. In case you forgot, Ballard lit up Kopitar at the 2008 World Championships, when the U.S. played Slovenia. He checked him hard into the boards, sending Anze's lid sky-high. It made a for a great photo, but also bad blood. He was a non-factor last season when the Kings pounced on the Panthers early.

The reason why I was so pissed was that here was the Kings' phenom center, trying to get his home country into the Olympics by coming back and leading them. And some punk-ass player (in this case, Ballard) decides to come along and light up the promising player. Injuries are my biggest worry when games like the World Championships or the Olynpics are played. So Ballard will always have a target on his back from me. Punk-ass.

The Kings came out, guns a'blazing to start the game. They outshot the Panthers in the first two periods, but were down two goals when Jack Mother Lovin' Johnson scored on the power play (thanks to Ballard's trip of Dustin Brown). Randy (Not That One) Jones had the assist.

NOVEMBER 16: Jack Johnson #3 of the Los Angeles Kings skates back to the bench after scoring the winning goal against the Florida Panthers in a shoot-out on November 16, 2009 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. The Kings defeated the Panthers 4-3. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)JMFJ's goal shifted the momentum, and Drew Doughty almost scored at the end of the second, on a last-second shot off the faceoff. But Jarret Stoll kept the pressure on the Cats, when he scored on an early power play (assists to Kopitar and Doughty). Then it was Michal Handzus took a Panther turnover deep in L.A. zone on a Florida power play and skated in and shot, allowing Jones to hit in the rebound off Voukon for a shorthander. That's four points in four games (2G, 2A) for Jones, who was playing in place of Rob Scuderi, who suffered a lower body injury against the Tampa Bay.

Speaking of injuries, Ryan Smyth suffered an upper-body injury in the second period and did not return. That's not good news for that top line, as Smyth is that's line's heart and soul. That top line has produced the majority of the Kings offensive numbers (23 G, 36 A). Frolov shifted up to the top line, but was limited to one shot in the game. What's up with that?

The Kings gave up another goal, and narrowly missed the shootout, when Jack Johnson stormed up the ice with 20 seconds left, catching the Panthers on their heels, and almost popped one past Voukon. He didn't miss in the shootout. The Panthers elected to shoot first, but were stoned by Jonny (Don't Call Me Jonathon) Quick twice. Johnson, who is money in the shootout, deked past Voukon to put L.A. up one goal. After Quick stopped Cory Stillman, the Kings celebrated their hard-fought win.

After going .500 in the Kings' first extended road trip, they return home with a .571 road record. They have played exceedingly well on the road, and head home to play the Flyers. Although Jack received the First Star of the game, it was Jones who impressed me. Looks like Lombardi picked up a solid player who provides excellent depth on defense. Turns out the Kings need that, with the injury to Scuderi. Now it's time to see if they can absorb the huge loss of Smyth.

• AP: Johnson rallies Kings past Panthers in SO
    Los Angeles improved to 2-2 in shootouts, while Florida dropped to 4-2. Both teams had won their previous game in a shootout Florida at home against the Islanders, 5-4, and Los Angeles at Tampa Bay, 2-1.
•  Johnson lifts Kings to shootout victory
    It’s a simple formula. More wins than losses, at the end of a long roadtrip, equals a happy and satisfied group of NHL players and coaches.
• Kings win in SO
    The Kings scored a shorthanded goal at the 7:58 mark. Michal Handzus pulled up in the left circle for a shot, but Jones kept going to the net. Vokoun made the stop on Handzus' shot, but Jones skated in and knocked in the rebound from the right side.
They said it
    "It’s a great road trip. When you’re playing in this league today, and traveling as much as we have through this trip, to get three wins at the end of the road trip, I would have been very happy to say to the team, before we started out, that it would be great if we could do that on this trip. And it’s done." - Terry Murray on finishing the road trip 3-2.
    “I don’t know if there was anything in particular. There was a calm sense on the bench, for sure. In Atlanta, I think a panic set in pretty quick for some reason. Tonight that wasn’t the case." -Jarret Stoll, on avoiding a second-period meltdown
Around the Kingdom

• The Throne Room: Shootout Magic Sends Kings Home 3-2 on Road Swing
    The good news, in addition to the Kings being 4th in the West with 28 points right now: The Ducks are dead last in the Western conference after being stomped in Pittsburgh 5-2 tonight.
• The Royal Half: Hounding the Competition
    I pretty much knew when Ryan Smyth took that awkward hip check that he was going to be out for the game. It's strange... when Justin Williams was out a week or two ago, I didn't notice as much... maybe because Wayne Simmonds did so well in his absence. But with Ryan Smyth out tonight... I felt like Alexander Frolov looked out of place on the 1st line and Brad Richardson looked downright scary on the 3rd line.
• The Royal Half: Weekend Warriors
    Is it just me or is Michal Handzus doing his best Harrison Ford here?

Hanz Solo.

(Ed. note: The Royal Half is must-read for me. This made me laugh so hard, I spit iced tea out of my nose. Thanks, Chris)
• Trying to Make a Point
    Pretty balanced, with five games at home and five on the road. With one game at Anaheim, that's a lot of home cooking. Philly and Calgary will probably be two of the toughest games in this stretch.
• Kings Win, Lose Smyth
    Special teams are always a factor. Special Ed. teams on the other hand can completely dictate a game.
• A Queen Among Kings: Thank You Jack Johnson; Kings 4, Panthers 3 (SO)
    Lastly, something that's bugging me: is it legal for a player to sweep away a goaltender's stick when it's laying outside of the crease? I'm talking about moving a goalie's unbroken stick to the boards so it's completely out of his reach. That's exactly what happened to Quick on the weird bounce ending in a goal against with a massive scramble at the goal mouth.
• HockeyBuzz's Matthew Barry: Smyth Hurt as Kings Need Shootout to Tame Panthers 4-3
    Alexander Frolov also had an assist but has not scored a goal in 9 straight games. He was the only player who did not participate in an "optional" skate, although its rumored he's been nursing a sore groin.
From across the aisle, the Florida viewpoint

• Miami Herald: Florida Panthers fall to Kings in shootout
      "It's disappointing,'' said Vokoun, who stopped 31 of 34 shots. ``We lost a game and it's our own fault. . . . We knew they were a high-scoring team with a good power play, and we gave them way too many chances. This game should have been won in regulation.''
• New Kings in Panthers-land; Ownership Reshuffle Springs Hope in Sunrise
    The Los Angeles Kings made a rare stop in South Florida and handed the Panthers an equally rare shootout loss Monday evening, defeating the Cats 4-3 in the end.
• Litter Box Cats: Quick, Kings drop Panthers 4-3 in SO
    A spirited night (announced attendance: 12,500) at the BankAtlantic Center saw the Florida Panthers - under the eyes of new managing partners Stuart Siegel and Cliff Viner - fall to 4-2 in shootouts as opportunistic Los Angeles made good use of their growing wealth of talent.
• HFBoards: GDT: "Crown The New Rulers" - Kings VS Panthers
    zeroG: all in all, a rather depressing night, though. this was a point lostagainst a tired and sleepwalking kings team. not happy with the lines,not happy with the energy or the decisions out there, did not see thetype of identity game i was expecting (especially after goals 1 and2)...
    Montsy14: Ever notice how difficult it is for the Panthers to get back into a game, whereas when we have a lead, its a piece of cake for the opponent to come back.
    Booootthh: Johnson has moves.. This will be tough.
Peeping the dailies


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  • November 18, 2009 12:03 PM ChrisKontos wrote:
    Thanks for the kind words about my little old Kings blog! And thanks for reading. Your blog is a must read as well!
    Reply to this
  • November 19, 2009 1:12 PM IceLover wrote:
    They HAVE TO forge ahead without Smyth tonight and use the tools he's shared with them to succeed. This is a huge opportunity for Fro to prove himself, as well, and I sincerely hope he does. I love it when the Flyers come to town. It should be a heck of a game.
    Reply to this
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