Game 31 Recap: Jackets End Kings Losing Streak

The Los Angeles Kings snapped their five game losing streak with a 2-1 win over the Blue Jackets tonight at Nationwide Arena. The win was the first for interim head coach John Stevens.

It didn't take long for a special team situation, as the Kings Simon Gagne went off for hooking Rick Nash at the 6 second mark. The Jackets PP looked strong, with Nash having the best scoring opportunity.

Nothing came of it, and the sides played a fairly even first half of the period. Curtis Sanford came up with some key saves during the early going. Slowly though, the momentum shifted and was squarely behind the Kings.

Several Jackets turnovers, typically when Anze Kopitar was on the ice, led to some quality scoring chances by the visitors. By the end of the period, the Kings had amassed a lopsided 17-6 shots on goal advantage. Obviously, Curtis Sanford was the difference for the Jackets in the period.

More after the Jump:

The second period showed much more discipline by Columbus. This was a good thing, especially after the first period meltdown. Overall the second period saw the Kings add to their shots on goal advantage, by a 9-8 margin.

The Jackets stayed closer to their men and to the puck, something which reduced the quality of scoring chances for LA, while increasing their own.

Referee "Blind" Stephane Auger gave RJ Umberger two for boarding at 7:46 of the period. It's entirely possible that Auger was the only person in the "Nation Arena" who saw it that way. If you're looking at the name of the rink and didn't get it, well no worries. Trust me, it's funny.

Umberger's penalty had 12 seconds to go, when right under Auger's nose, Drew Doughty firmly planted his stick between Nikita Nikitin's legs, twisting him into a pretzel and dropping him to the ice. Out of a sense of fairness, Auger made the call against the Kings defender with no hesitation.

Columbus scored the game's first goal at 16:43 of the period, when Vinny Prospal, from the right face off spot, spun and got a shot off toward Jonathan Quick in the Kings net. The shot, a knuckler at best, bounced off of Jeff Carter in the slot and continued its end over end flight into the Kings cage for the 1-0 lead. The goal was Carter's seventh of the season and extends his goal scoring streak to four straight games.

The period drew to a close with Rick Nash and Alec Martinez getting into it. Nash was called for holding the stick, while Martinez got two for a cross check at 19:54. Shots on goal through two periods stood at LA 26, and Columbus 14.

Period three started with both teams skating four on four.

The Kings got on the board with a very questionable goal awarded to Davis Drewiske. Drewiske, playing just his fifth game for the Kings, tossed a long, easy wrister toward the Jackets goal. Ordinarily a no brainer of a save would result. However this time, Dustin Brown was at the top of Sanford's goal crease and very discreetly let his backside interfere with Sanford's movement, while the wrist shot from the point slid inside the right post. A brief discussion ensued, but the play was not reviewable, therefore the goal stood. The official on the goal line was not Auger, but "Blind" Dan O'Halloran, who was obviously distracted by something more important in the arena than the game to which he was assigned.

A short time later, after the Kings were given free reign to cycle in the Jackets zone, the puck came to Drew Doughty at the point. He let fly a low blast, which Sanford had in his sights until Dustin Brown got the tip of his stick on the puck to redirect it and give the Kings a 2-1 lead.

With time running out and Sanford out of the net for the extra attacker, Jeff Carter cruised in and let a laser fly at Quick. He rang it off the post with a minute and a half remaining. After the play stoppage, Todd Richards took the Jackets time out to plan strategy. Giving them credit, the Jackets continued to apply pressure right up until the final buzzer.

This was a fairly lackluster effort by the Jackets. They had an opportunity to build on what was a strong game Tuesday night by playing a club that was reeling...the Kings had a five game losing streak, had fired their coach...yet the Jackets couldn't muster the energy needed to take advantage of the weakened Kings.

Standard Bearers:
Curtis Sanford - He has given the team consistent goaltending for the past month, when they needed it the most. Tonight, he turned in another solid performance. Tonight, it was 39 saves and that just wasn't enough.

Jeff Carter - Carter got credit for the Jackets only goal tonight. That was pure luck. However, for the rest of the night, Carter was the guy who was in the action, actually working on the ice. The same can't be said for most of the rest of his mates.

Bottom of the Barrel:
Dan O'Halloran - I've been watching this game for too long to realize an official gets every call right, all the time. It both perplexes and makes me mad when a referee, in the best league of its kind in the world, is on the goal line about 35 feet away from a player who is trying to be deceptive while he obviously interferes with the goaltender and misses the call. Come on Dan, you're better than that.

Anybody in Union Blue not named Sanford or Carter
- I can't say that Derek Dorsett's absence was the decisive factor in the Jackets tonight. Tonight's game just looked like a daytime stick time session at any local rink. Guys just cruising up and down, not particularly focused. Make no mistake, the Kings didn't earn a win tonight. They were the beneficiaries of being in the right place at the right time. There is no game to game consistency on the part of the Jackets.

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