LOS ANGELES, Calif. – With roughly two weeks left until the regular season, the Los Angeles Kings are hoping their power play is as good as it looked Tuesday night.
The Anaheim Ducks are really hoping their defence is a whole lot better than it appeared.
Jack Johnson had two goals and an assist, Anze Kopitar added four assists and the Kings routed their crosstown rivals 8-3 in an exhibition game.
Ryan Smyth, captain Dustin Brown, Andrei Loktionov, Wayne Simmonds and Michal Handzus each had a goal and an assist for the Kings, who lit up the Ducks’ rebuilt defence and backup goalie Curtis McElhinney. Kyle Clifford also scored and Jonathan Quick made 24 saves for the Kings, who scored four power-play goals.
Los Angeles coach Terry Murray rolled out his top players even after taking a multigoal lead, concentrating on perfecting the power-play prowess that got the Kings back to the playoffs last spring after an eight-year absence.
“There were good things happening deep in the offensive zone,” Murray said. “Scoring on the power play is part of the game you have to get going. You don’t normally get a lot of practice time in that area, and to get some results on that really reinforces what the coaching staff is trying to get to.”
Todd Marchant scored two goals for the Ducks, who got 34 saves from McElhinney. Dan Sexton and Marchant scored 40 seconds apart late in the third period after Los Angeles had taken a seven-goal lead.
Anaheim knows it could struggle defensively after captain Scott Niedermayer retired in the off-season and newcomer Toni Lydman was sidelined indefinitely by an eye injury before training camp. Coach Randy Carlyle didn’t expect something like this thrashing, though.
“We just had a terrible night,” Carlyle said. “We didn’t do anything to start, or to build on. You would almost think we never practised a defensive zone coverage when you watched us tonight.”
Los Angeles scored just six goals in its first three exhibitions combined, but the power-play unit led by star defencemen Drew Doughty and Johnson clicked from the start against Anaheim.
The Kings outshot the Ducks 23-7 and took a 4-0 lead in the first period, battering McElhinney from every angle. After Brown got Los Angeles’ opening late in a two-man advantage, Simmonds added another power-play score 38 seconds later.
Doughty and Johnson were on the ice for both scores, picking right up where they left off as a brutally effective power-play duo in last season’s playoffs against Vancouver.
Marchant scored early in the second, but Handzus tapped home a loose puck back later in the period for another power-play goal. The Kings then scored three straight goals in the third period, including Johnson’s second score for the top power play unit.
Topugh guys George Parros and Kevin Westgarth fought to a draw in the second period, with the two Princeton alumni tumbling to the ice together and getting up to continue the fight in one fluid motion. Westgarth is expected to make the Kings’ roster after racking up 25 points and 180 penalty minutes in the AHL last season.
Kings prospect Brayden Schenn and Ducks defenceman Luca Sbisa also had an entertaining fight in the final minutes. The tussle was a rematch of a memorable bout between the two in juniors.