All eyes were on L.A. Kings rookie defenseman Slava Voynov as the Kings defeated the Dallas Stars last night 5-3. Voynov had 2 goals and an assist against the top team in the Western Conference in just his fifth ever NHL game. Too bad his moment of glory was witnessed by a whopping 15 people at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Ok I exaggerate, but I think we all know what most of Texas was doing last night- and it wasn’t watching hockey. Take a look at his first NHL goal.
L.A. Kings’ goaltender, Jonathan Quick’s shutout streak ended last night after 202 minutes and 11 seconds of stopping every shot that came his way. Stars’ goaltender Kari Lehtonen was undefeated at 7-0-0 prior to last night’s game, but he couldn’t manage to stifle the Kings’ powerful offense.
The first goal of the night came on the power play from Stars’ defenseman Trevor Daley, but L.A. Kings’ right winger Justin Williams came back and tied it up in the second period. The Kings gained momentum and took over the remainder of the period by jumping out to a 3-1 lead with goals from Scott Parse and Slava Voynov. In the third period, Michael Ryder and Eric Nystrom scored for the Stars to tie it up at 3-3. The game winning goal came later in the third period from the rookie Voynov himself, before Dustin Brown polished it off at 5-3 with an empty netter.
The Kings management have a very difficult decision to make about Voynov’s future. As most of us know, Voynov was called up from the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL to step in for Drew Doughty who suffered a shoulder injury two weeks ago. It is looking like Doughty will be back in time for the team’s next game against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday. So, what will the team do with Voynov who has clearly proved himself capable of making a splash in the big leagues? Well, he is the only defenseman that clears waivers, so sending Martinez or Drewiske down in his place is a risky move, as it makes them susceptible to being picked up by other teams. It should be a tough decision for a team that is already stacked on defense, but it will have be made this afternoon.
The Kings have made great progress on the power play, an aspect of their game that suffered last season. Offensively, this team is the best it has been in a very long time. Anze Kopitar has points in seven of nine games. Mike Richards may not be scoring a whole lot of goals yet, but he has 8 assists on the season. Captain Dustin Brown had a goal and 2 assists last night, and the list doesn’t end there. Of course it still very early in the season, but the fact that the words L.A. Kings and Stanley Cup have even been mentioned in the same sentence is a huge accomplishment for a team that has struggled since the Gretzky era. They should be an exciting team to follow this season. For full highlights of the game, click here.