Kings fail to put the Golden Knights away in Game 3
The Los Angeles Kings only have themselves to blame.
After the Kings maintained a 1-0 lead for most of Sunday night’s game three against the Vegas Golden Knights, they failed to seal the deal and allowed the Knights to come back in the third period.
LA took a 1-0 lead midway through the first period after he collected an Anze Kopitar rebound and roofed the puck in the net. The Kings then nursed that lead well into the third period.
In the third period, Colin Miller’s shot rang off the goal post and found Perron on the half-boards. Perron through it on net where Ryan Carpenter found Cody Eakin alone with a wide open cage to tie the game six minutes in.
The score remained tied at one late into the game when James Neal spun off Oscar Fantenberg and somehow beat Jonathan Quick five-hole on a bad angle shot to give the Golden Knights their first lead of the game with five minutes left.
Three minutes later, Vegas gained some insurance by way of William Karlsson. After Adrian Kempe won the defensive zone draw cleanly, Reilly Smith somehow beat Jake Muzzin to the puck in the corner. Smith caught Drew Doughty day dreaming behind the net by finding Karlsson alone in the slot to beat Quick.
Kopitar scored with a little more than two minutes left to make the game close but it was too little too late for LA.
“I thought we made a good push here tonight,” said John Stevens about his team’s performance. “We created a lot more zone time and made Fleury work a little harder than he had to this point of the series.”
“But there were some critical errors at critical times that ended up costing us the hockey game.”
It isn’t fair to the Kings to say that they lost this game in that stretch in the third period. Throughout most of this game, Los Angeles had dominated and controlled the play.
When Iafallo scored first, it forced the Golden Knights to open things up and the Kings had a lot easier time spending time in the offensive zone because of it. A lot of that also has to do with Doughty and Muzzin returning to the lineup for game three after a suspension and injury.
However, the Kings inability to capitalize on glorious chances to beat Marc-Andre Fleury cost them the game as much as their defensive lapse.
Quick, once again, had a fantastic game with 23 saves. However, the go-ahead goal he allowed to Neal is something that cannot happen in a playoff game of that magnitude. Due to that, Fleury was able to outduel Quick, where he stopped 26 of 28 shots.
Now Los Angeles find themselves down three games to none and one game away from elimination.
In most cases, this deficit is too much to dig out of, however, the LA Kings happen to be a team that has done it before. In 2014, the Kings went down 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks and managed to climb their way back to win the series in seven games.
The bright side to that is much of the core of that team are also on this team. They understand what has to be done in order to come back from a hole like this one and not let it seem insurmountable.
“This team’s had some resilience all year,” said Stevens. “I’ve learned with this group as long as there’s time on the clock, there’s time to take care of business.”