Down 0-3 to St. Louis after 12 minutes? No problem, right? Apparently not.
Although they’re — again — not going to like their start to the game, LA — again — found a way to rally on Saturday night and tie things up. Unlike the night before, the Kings came up huge in overtime and earned a 4-3 victory over the visiting Blues.
Following the game, coach Todd McLellan shared several thoughts:
On the turning point in the game tonight
I think the turning point was the intermission in the first period when we decided that we couldn’t play a track meet style game against that team. We have to get back to playing the type of game right now that suits our team. There’s a tendency to want to go and just open it up. I don’t blame the players for wanting that. For us to have success, we have to play tight, we have to play along the boards, we have to check our way to wins. Early in the first. well throughout the first, it was just a track meet. It was back and forth. Probably exciting to watch, but not very productive for the black and silver team tonight.
On getting goals from players like Matt Luff, and if that brings energy to the rest of the team
It sure can. Everybody to a man was happy for Luffer. He’s played so much better this season, yet he’s been a victim of some circumstances that aren’t even under his control. Other guys have played well when they went in. To see him come in and score a real big goal at the end of the period gave us a big lift. The whole bench was excited for him, and that’s the one thing we’ve got going here. Guys care about each other, and they get excited when somebody breaks a slump, or somebody gets the first goal, or plays their first game. That comes from the five veterans that have been here for so long. They are able to create that excitement. They go back to their initial entry into the league, or their first goal, or when maybe things weren’t going that well and they were able to score. It rubs off on everybody else, so kudos to the group for being happy for Luffer.
On what he liked in response to the first period
We played our game. As I said earlier, the track meet style of ‘trade chances,’ you look at the very first shift of the game – we go in, we get a great scoring chance, we commit four players, which we’d like to do, but it was just dumb hockey. They come back and score. We turn the puck over on the second one, we commit the fourth guy into a situation that we have no chance of coming up with the puck, they score. It was just going back and forth, and it wasn’t gonna favor us. What was satisfying was that we could get back to our game. Let’s face it, you’re not going to score four in a row many nights against a team like that and come back. But we were fortunate tonight to regain our game, and that allowed us a chance.
On what he liked about the 3-on-3 tonight
In 3-on-3, anything can happen. You can get caught out tired, one turnover and usually it creates a series of two ones going both ways. Our goal, as great as it was for Gabe [Vilardi] to make that play to [Adrian] Kempe, [Sean] Walker almost blew his groin out trying to stay inside; he had the breakaway. It was a confusing play that ended up being a really fortunate one for us.
On if Kopitar willed the team back into the game
Yeah, that’s fair to say. No one man does it by himself, but when your top player or players decide that they have to reel the game back in and do it the right way, it’s really easy to follow it. Doesn’t always produce results, but you have no choice but to follow. You can’t go off on your own program, I don’t care who you are. When the alphas decide to play the right way, everybody else follows. That’s tremendous leadership shown by him and a few others tonight.
On how he feels walking away with three out of four points against St. Louis
Talking big picture right now, we get three out of four, but so did they. Yesterday’s game still stings because I think it’s something we could close out. You might say that the Hockey Gods weren’t on our side last night, but they were tonight. I guess we’ll take the three of four and move on. We have a tough series coming up against a rival. We didn’t play really well against them last time, so we’ll see where that takes us now.
On what’s led to Kopitar’s resurgence this season
I don’t necessarily agree with the resurgent, maybe the points are stacking up. I’ve been around him now for a year and a half, and I don’t see a huge difference in his game. It’s almost like he clones one game after another. Maybe he’s getting a few more scoring chances, maybe he’s being able to bury them or set a few more people up because of the type of group around us. He is about as consistent of a player I’ve been around in my 20-25 years of pro hockey. Credit to him and everybody else seems to follow.
More postgame quotes:
Matt Luff on Scoring and Beating the Blues
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