Los Angeles Hockey: Ben Eager

Kings: Rookies holding their own in postseason

April, 18, 2011
Alec MartinezJason O. Watson/US PresswireAlec Martinez helped the Kings' defense post a shutout of the Sharks in Game 2 last Saturday.

EL SEGUNDO — The locker room at the Toyota Sports Center was crowded with reporters and cameramen Monday morning, prompting staff members to cover the Kings' logo that centers the room with a large black rug and keep the unsanitary foot prints off their crown jewel.

As large groups of media huddled around the likes of Jarret Stoll, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick, rookie defenseman Alec Martinez slipped in relatively unnoticed, plopped down in the corner of the room and began untying his skates.

Martinez received plenty of attention in his first playoff appearance last week, but it wasn’t they type of debut he envisioned while growing up a Detroit Red Wings fan in Rochester, Mich. With about five minutes remaining in the first overtime against the San Jose Sharks, Martinez lost control of the puck after receiving a pass in cramped quarters, lost his footing and couldn’t get back on defense in time to prevent Joe Pavelski's winning goal.

It was a painful ending to an otherwise solid outing, but Martinez knew there was plenty of time for redemption. He gained that in Game 2, helping the defense combine on a 4-0 shutout that evened the series, 1-1, heading into Game 3 on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

“It was obviously a huge win for us,” Martinez said. “Coming back home with a split there. I thought we did a lot of good things both games. Unfortunately, it didn’t bounce our way the first game, but I think we did a real good job sticking to what we’re good at doing and played pretty well defensively.”

Martinez was recalled from Manchester just before Thanksgiving to fill in for fellow blue-liner Willie Mitchell, who was out because of a broken hand. Martinez scored a power-play goal in his first game with the Kings, a 4-1 loss in Montreal, then cemented a spot on the roster four games later with a goal and an assist in a 3-2 overtime victory against the visiting Red Wings.

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Kings: Drew Doughty picks up slack in 4-0 victory

April, 16, 2011
Western Conference quarterfinals

Game 2

Kings 4, San Jose Sharks 0

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: Down another key player at HP Pavilion in San Jose, the Kings responded with one of their best team efforts of the season, tying the best-of-seven series, 1-1, and stealing home-ice advantage from the Sharks.

THE STAT: Kings defenseman Drew Doughty has been itching to jump into the offensive zone and he picked the right times in Game 2, producing two goals and two assists to match his playoff career high point total. Doughty also had a team-high four blocked shots and drew two first-period penalties that set the tone for the game.

TURNING POINT: The Achilles’ heel for the Kings this season came through in a big way in the opening period. The Kings scored two power-play goals 3 minutes apart to take a 2-0 lead, which allowed the defense to exhale and batten down the hatches for the final two periods. Los Angeles was 21st in the league in power-play efficiency during the regular season and was missing two key pieces in Anze Kopitar (season-ending ankle surgery) and Jarret Stoll (one-game suspension), but Doughty and fellow defensemen Jack Johnson snuck early shots past San Jose goalkeeper Antti Niemi.

HOT: The defense was just as remarkable as the offense. Jonathan Quick stopped 34 shots for his first career playoff shutout, and defensemen Willie Mitchell, Matt Greene, Jack Johnson, Rob Scuderi, Alec Martinez and Doughty deserve an assist on the shut out effort as well.

NOT: San Jose went 0-for-5 on the power play to go along with their 0-for-2 effort in Game 1. The Sharks were second in the league in power-play efficiency during the regular season.

GOOD MOVE: The Kings scored their first goal on a great bullfighter move by Ryan Smyth. Doughty faked a shot from the point and slid the puck over to Johnson on the opposite side. Johnson had a clear view of the net and sent a blast toward Niemi. Smyth and Dustin Brown were camped in front of the net in an attempt to block Niemi’s view but as Johnson’s slap shot approached the net, Smyth pulled a nice ‘ole move and jumped out of the way at the last second, allowing the puck to sail by Niemi.

BAD MOVE: Both power-play goals in the opening period were the result of offensive-zone penalties by the Sharks. Ben Eager slashed Johnson to set up the first and Ryane Clowe elbowed Doughty to set up the second. Clowe was whistled for a cross-checking penalty later in the period but the Kings were unable to capitalize.

NOTABLE: The Kings had not won a playoff game by more than two goals since 1993.

UP NEXT: Game 3, Tuesday at Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.