Colonna: Kings Alex Iafallo finds the goal just in time for the playoffs

Alessio Iafalloproduction of the lens stopped abruptly and completely as if someone had turned a tap and stuck it in the “off” position.

He had enjoyed a solid start on the left side of the king‘header line, scoring six goals and 13 points in his first 13 games, but his success didn’t last. He has gone seven games without a goal, scored three goals in two games and then went goalless in eight games. He scored 13 goals mid-season and scored three more games later, leaving him ready to easily surpass the 17 career best goals he had scored in the 2019-20 season.

And then … nothing. Zero. zero. He couldn’t have put the record in the ocean if he had been at the end of the Santa Monica Pier.

Iafallo played 23 unfathomable games without scoring a goal, ending up falling from no. 1 line as she tries to rediscover the game of him. Coach Todd McLellan offered help and encouragement and remained patient as he appreciated that Iafallo was not allowing his scoring problems to drag on his defensive play.

“There are some scorers in the league who when they don’t score, sometimes not much else happens. We believe that when Al wasn’t scoring there were still other things that we enjoyed and that his teammates appreciated, “McLellan said.” He clung to those traits and eventually got his score back. ”

Transplanted to the third line with Philip Danault and native of Thousand Oaks Trevor Moore for the opening of the playoffs of the Kings against Edmonton On Monday, after winger Viktor Arvidsson retired for unknown reasons, Iafallo recorded his first multipoint game since January 13. He contributed a goal and an assist to the Victory for 4-3 of the Kings at Rogers Place and made Danault’s winning goal possible by intercepting an expected stretched pass from goalkeeper Mike Smith that triggered a chaotic and decisive sequence in the Oilers’ zone.

Danault can make any winger look good, and he had a knack for Iafallo earlier in the season. “We have good support and I feel that she is always in the right place. To turn it back on and stay hungry on the bill, it’s fun to play with him, “Iafallo said of their effectiveness.” I want to communicate too. That’s what we talk about on the bench and between periods, even in each zone. Support each other and make the right play. ”

But Iafallo, who finished with 17 goals and 37 points in 79 games, also deserves credit for not having given up, also because he said that his teammates never gave up while he was trying to put the tap back on.

“I feel like our team is very close so everyone is pushing each other,” he said on Tuesday, after the Kings trained ahead of Game 2 on Wednesday at Rogers Center. “Someone is down, everyone somehow gets involved and takes everyone. So that’s what is really nice about this team this year.”

Iafallo set the Kings first goal, an instant shot by Moore from inside the right circle at minute 11 of the first period, and scored the second goal, taking a nice backhand pass from Moore and smacking the puck Smith from his placed near the left post at 16:48 of the first period.

Kings center Phillip Danault (24) scores in the third period against Oilers goalkeeper Mike Smith in Game 1 on Monday.

Kings center Phillip Danault (24) scores the deciding goal in the third period against Oilers goalkeeper Mike Smith in Game 1 on Monday.

(Jason Franson / Associated Press)

Careful play by Iafallo turned the game in favor of the Kings. Smith, whose puck-handling skills may not be as good as he thinks, tried to make a pass to Leon Draisaitl but Iafallo intercepted him and shot. Smith made a sprawling save but Moore chased the puck and dug it behind the net. He switched to defender Sean Durzi, whose long-range shot was deflected into the net by Danault at 14:46 of the third period.

“I was just trying to do a preliminary check and luckily I jumped out,” said Iafallo. “I was trying to be above. I thought you would circle it [around the boards] so i just went to the center and luckily i was able to grab it and shoot.

Jonathan Quick took care of the rest, finishing with 36 saves when the Kings – whose lineup included eight players in their post-season debut – beat Edmonton 4-1 in a five-on-five game.

McLellan offered little information on Arvidsson, true to the absurd tradition of being in awe of injuries during the postseason. “Obviously, it’s not a good sign if he’s not on the ice today, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be available for us,” McLellan said. Edmonton manager Jay Woodcroft hasn’t said whether he will restart Smith in Game 2, even though he defended Smith’s handling of the puck. “The only comedy you’re referring to is the one he wants to get back, but it’s a real asset to him,” Woodcroft said.

Iafallo played in three post-season games in 2017-18 when the Kings were overwhelmed by Las Vegas. They are a new team and he is confident that the goals will flow again.

“I know we haven’t been here in a while, but our goals remain the same: to work as a team and fight every round, every period,” he said. “We are thrilled to be here and will move forward.”