The beat goes on. On Friday night, Dec. 11, 2015 in front of a sellout crowd of 18,489 at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA, the Los Angeles Kings earned a 3-2 shootout win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. This was the sixth straight win for the Kings. After having played 28 games in the 2015-16 season, they have a record of 19-8-1 and lead the Pacific division by nine points over the second place Vancouver Canucks.
For true hockey fans, this was a rare showcase of four terrific centers; Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins, and Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter of the Kings. In goal, both Jonathan Quick of the Kings and Marc-Andre Fleury of the Penguins, played well.
In this hard fought contest, both teams were aptly rewarded for good play. In the first period, the Kings had more jump and took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Tanner Pearson at the 7:34 mark. The second period was a different story, as the home team outshot the Kings 18-12 and evened the score at 1-1 on a goal by Eric Fehr, with just 1:15 remaining in the middle stanza.
In what would be a hotly contested third period, Jake Muzzin put the Kings ahead with a goal just 34 seconds after the puck dropped. From there, it was a frenetic battle down to the end. It was beginning to look like the Kings might win it in regulation time, but with the goaltender pulled in favor of an extra skater, Malkin scored from in close and tied the game at 2-2 with just 1:10 remaining in regulation time.
In what was a rather conservatively played 3-on-3 overtime session, Pittsburgh outshot the Kings 3-2 but the game remained tied as the five-minute bonus period came to an end. On the season, the Kings have now gone to overtime eight times but have yet to yield a goal while skating 3-on-3.
In the shootout, David Perron was the first shooter for Pittsburgh and was able to get the puck past Quick. Anze Kopitar answered back for the Kings and made it 1-1. Quick was able to stop Crosby, Malkin and Nick Bonino. Fleury stopped Dustin Brown and Tanner Pearson, but could not stop Marian Gaborik who scored the game-winner.
Kings notes: The Kings swept a four-game home stand prior to winning the first two games of this six-game road trip. The trip continues with a game against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night, Dec. 12. Against Pittsburgh, Kings forward Kyle Clifford missed his second straight game due to injury; this gave forward Michael Mersch the opportunity to play in his first-ever regular season NHL game. Mersch wore number 49, and logged 11:01 time on ice while skating on a line with Nick Shore and Dustin Brown. Mersch skated in several key situations, and though not an exceptionally fast skater, showed excellent NHL-level quickness.
Dec. 11, 2015. Kings at Pittsburgh. Final score: LAK 3, PIT 2 (SO). Final shots on goal: PIT 42, LAK 40. Power play: PIT 0/3, LAK 0/2. Three Stars of the game: 1) Jonathan Quick – LAK, 2) Jake Muzzin – LAK, 3) Evgeni Malkin – PIT. Goaltenders: LAK – Jonathan Quick, PIT – Marc-Andre Fleury.
Kings forward line combinations:
Kings defense pairings: