After the implosion that was Saturday’s game I was unsure which team would come out to play the Canucks. Not going to lie I was nervous. Turns out I didn’t have to be. Phew!

In the first period, the Kings did not give up a goal. They did not score a goal either but they did not give up one so I was taking the win. They looked much better, going back to their system and shutting down the Canucks chances. Coach Stevens had the lines in a blender, starting with a Tobias Reider-Jeff CarterTrevor Lewis opening (top line Trevor is totally a thing). But it was the Dustin BrownAnze KopitarAlex Iafallo line that was just stunning. They were making fast, educated, smart, beautiful plays on all 200 feet of the ice. Brown, in particular, seemed to have something to prove, and short of getting a goal, he did. Derek Forbert made the first mistake, a stupid one considering how well everyone else was playing. He was called for high sticking in the defensive zone which given the quality of the Kings penalty kill was actually fine, except that a weak call on Jake Muzzin left the Kings double shorthanded for 14 seconds. No one told Kopitar and Brown, however, as they killed that penalty in their offensive zone easily. Lots of shorthanded opportunities. Christian Folin joined in on the shorthanded fun and drew a penalty himself, and the Canucks spent most of their 4-on-4 time acting as though it was a Kings full power play. Thanks, guys! My favorite line drew another penalty a few minutes later and an impressive except for not actually scoring a goal power play ensued. The Canucks had maybe one clear the whole time and the Kings puck movement was spectacular. The period may have ended 0-0 but for once a first period didn’t leave me wanting to cry into my bucket of wine.

*(Reed Saxon/*AP)

The second had me crying in a completely different way – Tyler Toffoli got his 22nd of the season 1:57 in from Muzzin and Adrien Kempe, so Muzzin I completely forgive you for that earlier 14 seconds of panic. Muzzin’s pass to Toffoli in the neutral zone gave him the breakaway; he deeked around Nilsson and the puck was in the back of the net. 1-0 Kings, so you’d think the momentum would be in their favor, right? The Canucks pushed back and for a few minutes there it looked like maybe the Kings were going to do something stupid like let them back into the game. They didn’t; instead right around when we were starting to get super worried (only because after the halfway mark the game should have been 3 or 4 to nothing and it wasn’t), the Iafallo-Kopitar-Brown line struck again. They were all over the ice all night – I could have watched an entire game of just those three. They were dangerous and credit Nilsson for only allowing that line one. The goal was originally credited to Brown, who was parked in the front of the net, but later given back to Kopitar who took the shot almost from the blue paint. They kept it up for the remaining 5:06 of the third and gave us hope that this team is actually good. Like really good.

*(Reed Saxon/*AP)

When the Kings ended up on the penalty kill 1:40 into the third I went to a dark place. “Play a full 60 minutes guys” I was screaming in my head while my whole body was slumped into the seat, expecting a disappointment like so many third periods recently. Thankfully the Kings penalty kill is still quite good, the storm was weathered and the Kings didn’t let up. At one point Kopitar did skate to the bench in what looked like considerable pain, but a few shifts later crises was averted and he was back on the ice. Finally, after some very solid hockey, great puck management and a relentlessness reminiscent of that stellar opening series of games, Tanner Pearson solidified the Kings win. He had such patience, waiting for Nilsson to be sprawled in front trying to anticipate Pearson’s shot, skated around him and lifted the puck up and over. He could have taken the shot at any moment – he was alone in front of the net but he kept moving, allowing the goaltender to fall too far out of position to be able to stop it. Beautiful hockey. The Canucks weren’t coming back from that. Dion Phaneuf and ex-King Nic Dowd threw some fists with 4:32 remaining, giving them the boldness to pull Nilsson early, trying to get some 5-on-4 action. It may have worked, had Henrik Sedin not hooked Kopitar 47 seconds into that, giving the Kings an east coast to the end of the game. Honestly the last 5 or so were played just for Quick’s 35-save shutout.

(Reed Saxon/*AP)

Stay excited Kings fans, they are back in the third spot in the Pacific division. And it’s Bark Madness, so be prepared for the cuteness of Kings dogs all month!

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