After earning a big two points in Vegas on Friday, the Kings were up against a Coyotes team 20 games under .500 in the second leg of a back-to-back on Saturday.
While all the right things were being said by the players and coaches leading up to puck drop, the Kings found themselves in a 3-1 deficit approaching the end of the second period.
The Coyotes took advantage of two defensive breakdowns by the visiting LA Kings to go up by a two-goal lead. At the time, it felt like a game that last year’s squad could not overcome.
“Last game doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win today.”
Doughty, with his second goal of the game, is leading by example. #GoKingsGo
— Ryan Sikes (@ryan_sikes10) February 20, 2022
The former Norris Trophy winner added another chapter to his storied history in Los Angeles.
Doughty’s power-play goal with 1:27 left in the second period pulled the Kings back within one, but it was his message during the intermission that jump-started the rest of the team.
“We just had some absolute dumb lapses on those last two goals by them… Honestly, it’s unacceptable, neither of those should have happened the way they did. We can kind of use the momentum, we’re back in the game now. Last game doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win tonight,” he said.
The Kings came out on fire to start the third period, scoring three goals in the final frame, including Doughty’s second goal of the night to give Los Angeles the lead for good.
While we may never get the full transcript of what Doughty actually said to his teammates, which I am sure was full of colorful words, there was an obvious response from his team to avoid dropping a disappointing game to a lesser opponent.
“I mean, Drew is the heartbeat of this team, he came in and told us that same exact thing,” Trevor Moore said how Doughty’s message resonated with the locker room. “It was so important that we get this win today, all these games are so important.”
Unbelievably, Saturday marked just the second two-goal game in Doughty’s career, despite him eclipsing the 1,000-game mark at the end of January.
And unlike the last few seasons, the Kings find themselves in the thick of the playoff race, occupying the second Wild Card spot and within striking distance of first place in the Pacific Division.
Doughty has been fantastic since returning from the knee injury early on in the season, and over his last seven games, the London, Ontario native has eight points.
Throw out the goals and points totals if you ask Doughty; all he cares about is winning.
“I haven’t had this much fun in a couple of years. Every game just feels so important, and when you pull it off, it just feels so good. We’re really happy with where we’re at, but we realize how much work is left to do. We got so many games left, so many big games.”
He put the pressure on LA Kings’ management to make the necessary moves during the offseason to make the team competitive again. Through 50 games, Los Angeles looks like a team that can play with anyone.
Right now, Doughty looks like that same player in the 2012 and 2014 postseason runs that continued to get better and better the deeper the Kings got.
And Saturday’s game could be one that we reflect on at the end of the year as a significant moment in the 2021-22 LA Kings’ season.