Takeaways: LA Kings 4, Panthers 3 – Gusty performance
Some excellent penalty killing and a career night from Pheonix Copley saw the LA Kings hold off a late push by the Florida Panthers to win 4-3.
LAK: Anze Kopitar (15), ASST: Quinton Byfield (7), Adrian Kempe (14)
No look feed from Byfield to Kopitar.#GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/fM1l5UQa9t
— Russell Morgan (@NHLRussell) January 28, 2023
LAK: Adrian Kempe SHG (20), ASST: Blake Lizotte (15)
LAK: Viktor Arvidsson SHG (13), ASST: Mikey Anderson (10), Phillip Danault (22)
FLA: Ryan Lomberg (7), ASST: Nick Cousins (13), Eric Staal (8)
FLA: Brandon Montour (9), ASST: Matthew Tkachuk (38), Carter Verhaeghe (17)
LAK: Matt Roy ENG (6), Unassisted
FLA: Carter Verhaeghe (26), ASST: Matthew Tkachuk (39), Aleksander Barkov (31)
Pheonix Copley’s career night
The way the LA Kings’ defense has played most of the year, there hasn’t been a reason for their goalies to steal games. For a team that is top five in expected goals against per 60, average goaltending should be enough to come away with two points on any given night.
In yesterday’s game against Florida, the defense wasn’t great, but Pheonix Copley’s performance in net stole the game for the Kings. Finishing with a career-high 45 saves and a season-high 3.23 goals saved above expected, according to MoneyPuck.com, Copley gave Kings’ fans a jolt of confidence that his play could be sustainable throughout the end of the season and maybe into the playoffs.
Improved penalty kill
There’s been big-time improvement in the LA Kings’ penalty kill since the turn of the new year, and that was more than emphasized in last night’s game. Being shorthanded on five different occasions, including a questionable five-minute major and a high-pressure power play for Florida late in the game, the penalty kill came through the entire game. And even managed to produce some offense for LA with two shorthanded goals.
Now that's a Juicy shorty 🧃 pic.twitter.com/kd9eoqslQo
— LA Kings (@LAKings) January 28, 2023
Since January 1, the Kings are 87.9% on the penalty kill giving up only four goals in 11 games while scoring three times while shorthanded. To see those numbers along with a rejuvenated power play, special teams problems could be a thing of the past.
Quinton Byfield thriving on Kopitar line
Ever since the somewhat surprising move to place Quinton Byfield alongside Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe, we’ve seen a dramatic improvement in play from the 20-year-old. While some still question whether it’s a viable long-term solution for Byfield on the wing, for the time being, it’s helping the team win games.
When injured players such as Trevor Moore, Arthur Kaliyev, and Gabe Vilardi return to the lineup, hopefully soon after the all-star break, we’ll have to see if Byfield still remains on that top line.
UP NEXT: The LA Kings are right back at it tonight in Tampa Bay at 4 pm PT
Featured image credit: (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)