Manor Rapid Review: Kempe Shines in Pittsburgh, LA Ends Road Trip With 2-1 Win

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A pair of late goals from Adrian Kempe provided enough offense for the Kings to beat the Penguins by a score of 2-1 on Sunday night. In the process, LA picked up their fifth win in their last six contests and improved to 4-1-0 under new coach Jim Hiller.

The Kings outshot the Penguins 7-1 early in the opening period. However, as has been the case coming out of the All-Star break, LA had another strong start with nothing to show for it, as they weren’t able to capitalize on anything they were generating. After the Kings trailed for the majority of the game, including well into the third period, Kempe scored his 18th of the season with just over six minutes remaining in regulation. Once tied at 1-1, the Kings kept pushing for more. Just a few minutes later, Kempe recorded what would stand as the game-winning goal. It was scored with the team shorthanded and was his 150th career goal.

OK GO OFF JUICE!!!!! pic.twitter.com/2f20HR5YHL

— LA Kings (@LAKings) February 19, 2024


In doing so, Kempe (525 GP) became the 10th-fastest player to record 300 career points among players to debut with the Kings, and the second-fastest active skater to do so behind Anze Kopitar (333 GP).

Each of the Kings three wins on this road trip came right down to the wire. This is a positive sign for Hiller’s group, as the team has shown an ability to stay focused late in games; an area they had issues with earlier in the year.

Untimely Penalties: Ill-timed penalties have been the Kings kryptonite over the past few games. On numerous occasions against the Penguins, they carried the play 5-on-5 only to have their momentum quickly disappear after committing an infraction. Pittsburgh’s lone goal came five seconds into a power play that resulted from a slashing minor against PL Dubois. Although the Kings still managed to pull out a win, this is an aspect of the game they’ll need to improve upon.

5 Wins in Last 6: LA has managed to put together a nice little streak after a pretty dreadful month of January. What’s perhaps more impressive is the multitude of ways in which they’ve managed to win since the coaching change. They’ve won in low-scoring and high-scoring games, plus they’ve found a way to also come-from-behind and extended leads.

Stat Sheet Takeaways: In his first start in over three weeks, goaltender Cam Talbot posted a .967 save % in earning the victory. The 36-year-old had an exceptional start to the season – which earned him a trip to the NHL All-Star Game – yet was mired in an 0-7-3 stretch entering this weekend. The game in Pittsburgh told a much different story, though, as Talbot stopped 29-of-30 shots en route to victory. A tightly-contested battle in net between Talbot and Rittich will only help the Kings going forward.

Heading Home: The Kings will begin a three-game homestand on Tuesday night; facing a trio of teams currently out of a playoff spot. While this is favorable news for LA on paper, they can’t take anything for granted. Hiller and his squad will have to remain focused, especially considering their less than impressive record at Crypto.Com Arena earlier this season. They seemed to have fixed their road woes, not it’s time to do the same at home.

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