The LA Kings dominated for most of the night, but only walk away with one point as they fell in a shootout to Vancouver.
Canucks win in the shootout
LAK – Moore – ❌
VAN – Miller – ✅
— Zach Dooley (@DooleyLAK) March 19, 2023
LAK: Gabriel Vilardi – NO GOAL
VAN: Andrei Kuzmenko – GOAL
LAK: Trevor Moore – NO GOAL
VAN: JT Miller – GOAL
Here are the takeaways from Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss:
The Thatcher Demko show
This game could have been over after the first period the way the LA Kings played, but it wasn’t. Thatcher Demko stole the show from start to finish with a spectacular 38-save performance to steal a win for the Vancouver Canucks. According to the Money Puck website (advanced stats for every game), Demko had a 1.39 goals saved above expected. There were even several sequences he had to make three or four saves to keep the puck out of the net.
My goodness, Thatcher Demko! pic.twitter.com/UGmDpSp4lU
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) March 19, 2023
With 13:19 remaining in the third period, the Kings were outshooting the Canucks 34-6. Shot suppression was great for LA as they dominated puck possession, but had nothing to show for it.
I could not watch last night's #LAKings game, but doesn't appear to be a loss due to a poor performance.
All data via @NatStatTrick
— Joe W. Patarino (@JWPatarino) March 19, 2023
The only time Demko didn’t have a heavy workload was the overtime session, as Vancouver had all three shots on goal and a majority of puck possession for the overtime. Without Demko, Vancouver had no chance to win this game. All you can do is tip your cap to a great performance.
Slumping power play
In their last ten games, the LA Kings’ power play has hit a cold spell, going 5-for-34 in that span. It’s starting to look somewhat predictable as teams are starting to take away passing lanes to not allow Arthur Kaliyev to get off a shot or too much passing along the perimeter with very few shots. Todd McLellan wasn’t impressed with his team’s power play after the game again. With the power play already in a little slump, losing Kevin Fiala and Sean Durzi from both the first and second unit, respectively, makes things even more challenging. Jordan Spence looked good running the second unit last night in Durzi’s absence. However, the first unit’s setup caught my eye.
During the Kings’ second power play attempt, Quinton Byfield was in the right circle, Gabriel Vilardi was in front of the net and Adrian Kempe was used as the bumper man. Not having a player like Fiala, where you can put him almost everywhere on the power play, hurts. We’ll see some different strategies be used until he returns. Personally, I like to see Kempe in the right circle, Vilardi in the bumper, and Byfield in front of the net or to the side of the net as he is not a threat from the right circle as a shooter. Either way, the Kings don’t want to enter the playoffs with an ice-cold power play and have the same special teams issues in their first-round matchup as they did last year against Edmonton.
— Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) March 19, 2023
The race for the Pacific Division is heating up. While the LA Kings earned a point in their shootout loss, they are now tied with the Vegas Golden Knights for the division lead with 90 points. Vegas is in action at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets this afternoon with a chance to regain their lead for first place. While those two are fighting for the division lead, the Edmonton Oilers aren’t far behind as they trail both the Kings and Knights by four points. Edmonton plays Vegas two more times while LA plays Vegas and Edmonton one and two more times respectfully. Every game and every point will matter in the final 12 games to determine the standings and home-ice advantage for potential matchups.
UP NEXT: The LA Kings return to action tomorrow against the Calgary Flames who are fighting for their playoff lives. The game starts at 7:30 pm PT and can be seen on Bally Sports West.
Featured image credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press