After a sloppy game on Saturday, the Los Angeles Kings got back into the win column on Tuesday, beating the New York Islanders 5-2.
Another game of two teams who play a tight, defensive brand of hockey, the Kings were able to capitalize on the power play to gain an advantage.
For a power play that's struggled over the last ten games, it was a welcome sight for Kings fans.
"Let's face it, we didn't reinvent the power play," said Todd McLellan. "We just got a little sharper, a little faster. And I'm not even sure how we really do it, we just try and convince the players they're a fraction slower than what they were in the past. Whether it's done in video or conversation and today they moved the puck a little bit quicker. And it's a pretty good penalty kill on that squad (the Islanders) so, to score two we're fortunate."
Coming off that sloppy game against the Nashville Predators on Saturday the early signs pointed to another sloppy one Tuesday night.
In the first period the Kings once again struggled to connect on passes and just didn't look to be connected as a unit. But, between the first and second period something switched and the team figured it out.
"We talked about it between periods," said McLellan. "I thought we were excellent below the goal line to the hashmarks on our breakouts, we were connected there. It was the next play and often that's on the forwards for getting casual or sloppy and we fixed it. The guys did a good job in the second and third. They (the Islanders) had a pretty good idea of how we were going to play the game and they forechecked well against it. So, we really had to work exceptionally hard just to get out of our end. But the guys did a good job of it."
The Kings offense has been explosive for most of this season. But putting seven goals past a stingy Islanders defense backstopped by All-Star netminder Ilya Sorokin is particularly impressive. Not many teams can score like that against the Islanders.
"I'll answer for this game, I can't even remember what we did against them last game," said McLellan. "We talked about being direct and releasing the shot before we really had to. Take (Sean) Walker's goal for example, had he waited just a fraction longer for all the traffic to get there. And then there's some things we had to do in and around the net, the box out really well. So, you have to find a way to stay in a goaltenders eyes but get loose. And it's not easy, but we did a bit of work on that at practice yesterday, I thought it paid off."
The fourth line has put on somewhat of a Jekyll and Hyde act over the last few weeks. Struggling to find any sort of consistency and some nights looking like one of the teams worst lines and some nights looking dangerous throughout. On Tuesday, they were on the positive side of that act and were a big threat.
"I liked the fourth line tonight," said McLellan. "I've liked the fourth line lately, they've done a real good job. A different ingredient, I thought Arthur (Kaliyev) came in and played a tremendous game, everybody knows he can score and shoot the puck. That's a given. But he did good things along the boards, he rolled off and beat people to open ice, he backchecked, was physical. It's nice to see that and I'm happy for him because he's a important part of our team. But the other two played very well also."
It was another strong game from Joonas Korpisalo, who stopped 26 of 28 shots and finished with 1.12 goals saved above expected. After a fairly weak goal to start the game, he settled into his groove and stood tall in the third period.
He's 3-0 in a Kings uniform and is giving the Kings the stability they were looking for when they traded for him just before the deadline.
"Calm, not a lot of garbage or secondary stuff in and around him," McLellan said of Korpisalo's game. "He makes a good first save and then the whistle goes. And we believe in the centers we have for faceoffs so we're okay with that. But there is a calmness to him, he's a veteran, 'I've been here before, let me do my job.' And I think it rubs off on the players. And the players have played well around our goaltenders. Again, I go to the numbers, what are they? Two-two-two-two-one-two, that's a pretty good defensive commitment by everybody to help protect the goaltenders"
The relief on Trevor Moore's face after scoring his first goal since Dec. 1, and his first goal since returning from injury has already turned into a meme on Kings Twitter.
It's been a tough season for Moore who's dealt with a lot of injuries after signing a contract extension with the team, but that goal should be huge for his confidence.
It didn't fit the cliché of needing a goal to go off your backside when you're struggling either. It was a snipe against one of the best goalies in hockey.
"Feels great, it's been a while," Moore said. "I'll take them anyway I can get them honestly.
Moore initially returned from a suspected concussion after the All-Star, but it was clear he wasn't ready. He struggled through those games and had to go back on IR for a few weeks. But he feels better now and feels closer to 100% than he did after coming back the first time.
"Yeah, I was able to kind of skate and keep my legs this time which has been positive," said Moore. "Last time I had the week and a half over All-Star break to skate which was good, but I couldn't practice with the team and all that, so this time it's been easier for sure."
One of the things that's helped Moore return is his chemistry with line mates Phil Danault and Viktor Arvidsson. Despite not having the same impact they had down the stretch last season, they've still been trusted in all situations by McLellan. And they repaid McLellan with a goal on Tuesday.
"For sure, two guys who are confident and do it right all the time," said Moore. "It makes it easy to kind of know where they are on the ice, it makes it easy for me."