The slide continues…
The Los Angeles Kings picked up one point, but this loss was by far the most painful, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching loss since Joe Thornton ended the Kings’ season last year in overtime in Game 6, so I apologize but I’m going to try and keep this short. Besides, if you’re a Kings fan, I wouldn’t even be reading this if I were you (although I appreciate it if you are).
For the 11th time in 13 games this season, the Kings failed to record more than two regulation goals, and for the fourth time in a row and the fifth time in six games, the Kings lost. The game seemed to be in the bag, with the Kings up late on the Penguins, and then appeared to have the dagger, but Dustin Brown’s insurance marker was called back for a high-stick, the Penguins tied it up shortly thereafter, and after a thrilling overtime, the Kings fell in the shootout. Last year, the Kings were 10-2 in the shootout, and Jonathan Quick was 10-0. The shootout was the only reason the Kings made the playoffs, but they better hope they don’t rely on it nearly as much this year, as Quick and the Kings are 0-2 in the penalty shot competition this year.
Speaking of penalty shots, Mike Richards had one in the third period that could have given the Kings the lead, but his shot went wide. The Kings had a massive 5-on-3 early in the second, but failed. The Penguins had a massive 5-on-3 in the first, and capitalized. They took advantage of their opportunities, the Kings didn’t, and that’s why Pittsburgh is going home with two points while the Kings are left with a measly point that they could not care less about.
For a while, it looked like the Kings were going to break out of their slump and pick up a win over an elite team like Pittsburgh. It truly did. But Chris Kunitz had other plans, who when you combine his Stanley Cup with the Ducks and now tying it late tonight and winning it in a shootout, has easily got to be one of the most hated men in LA. Once again, after scoring, this time it was the go-ahead goal late, the Kings failed to hold onto it and allowed the other team to tie it up not very long after because of some brutal defensive play.
And once again, the Kings offense did very little and squandered many opportunities. All of it adds up to a team that is struggling badly right now, a team that has now lost more than it’s won, and a team that can not generate any offense. It was the same old story tonight. Kopitar and Quick did everything, while for most of the game, everyone else just stood around and watched. Every game I think “Ok, this is the game that the Kings are finally going to explode offensively. This is finally the game Penner picks it up. This is finally the game Doughty picks it up. It has to happen eventually.” But it never does. This is a team where, whenever the Kings need a goal, there’s about eight players who should go score the goal. But usually, none of them do. It’s so unbelievable that this team is so bad offensively. It really is. This should be a top-five offensive team, not a bottom-five. They have to figure it out eventually, right? I hope so. I don’t know what the wake up call is going to have to be, though. This has to stop.
There’s not much more I can say. They’re struggling. They can’t score. The bounces aren’t going their way. Everything’s just a disaster right now. I’ve gone over everything before in previous posts. I don’t know what else I can say on the matter. Things just aren’t turning around, but they’re going to have to, and soon, or there’s going to be some changes. This is too talented of a team to be playing like this.
Believe me, I want to put this game behind me ASAP. Again, I don’t blame you if you aren’t reading this, but what the heck, for those of you who can handle it, I commend you. Let’s quickly recap the game…
1st period: In the first period, it was almost as if there was a magnet in the Kings’ penalty box, and none of the Kings could stay away from it. They killed off the first two, but then the Kings took three penalties in a 1:34 span that gave the Penguins a lengthy 5-on-3, that the Kings actually killed off, but Steve Sullivan capitalized for the Penguins at the 18:45 mark with a 5-on-4 advantage, as he shot one by Quick with assists to Kris Letang and James Neal. Ethan Moreau had a questionable hit on Chris Kunitz at the 8:27 mark of the period, but only received a two-minute minor for boarding. The hit may be reviewed by the league, but who knows what’s a suspension anymore. The Penguins had 7:41 of power play time in the period and went 1-for-5. The Kings didn’t have one. The Penguins outshot the Kings 14-8.
2nd period: At the 1:53 mark, the Kings were given 1:18 of a two-man advantage, but did absolutely nothing with it. Then, at the 13:34 mark, the Kings scored a goal. No, seriously. Actually, I’m not joking. I promise you, they really did. Honest. It was Anze Kopitar — now you shouldn’t be so surprised — taking a nice pass from Justin Williams and going in all alone on Marc-Andre Fleury and roofing a backhand for his seventh goal of the year. Matt Greene also picked up an assist. Their goalless drought ended at 114:50, and their home shutout streak ended at 158:32. Yikes… The Kings went 0-for-3 on the power play in the frame, while the Penguins didn’t have one. LA outshot the Pens 14-10 in the period.
3rd period: At the 10:30 mark, Mike Richards got a break shorthanded, and was taken down my Kris Letang and awarded a penalty shot, but missed wide. By the way, the Kings’ usual bad luck that they get every game also came earlier in the period when Richards was high-sticked and was cut, but instead of getting a four-minute power play, the ref missed it and the Kings were left with nothing but a cut on Richards’ face. At the 13:49 mark of the period, Simon Gagne finished off a great pass from Anze Kopitar at the side of the net for his fourth goal of the year to give the Kings a late lead. Justin Williams also got an assist. Then at the 16:40 mark, the Kings appeared to have some insurance, but it was determined that Dustin Brown hit the Mike Richards shot into the net with a high-stick, and video review could not find conclusive evidence to overturn the call. Then at the 17:03 mark, just 23 seconds after it appeared the Kings had the dagger, Chris Kunitz took advantage of some brutal defensive-zone coverage by the Kings and got the puck behind the net and walked out in front and roofed a backhand over Quick. Jordan Staal and Pascal Dupuis picked up the assists. Kris Letang hit the post in the last minute. The Penguins outshot the Kings 8-5 in the frame, and 32-26 in regulation. The Penguins went 0-for-1 on the power play in the third and 1-for-6 on in regulation, while the Kings didn’t have one and finished 0-for-4 in regulation.
Overtime: The Penguins outshot the Kings 1-0 in overtime, outshooting them 33-26 on the night, while neither team had a power play, with the Kings finishing 0-for-4 and the Penguins finishing 1-for-6. The early part of overtime was boring, but the last couple of minutes featured furious action and some posts.
Shootout: Jarret Stoll, who was 9-for-10 last year with eight straight attempts made, did his patented shot high-glove but it was no good. He is now 0-for-1 on the year
Evgeni Malkin was stopped by Quick (NOTE: I couldn’t find the Penguins’ shootout stats).
Anze Kopitar did his can-opener move and slid it through Fleury’s legs. He is now 1-for-2 on the year.
Kris Letang did a sick move and went to his backhand and tied it.
Dustin Brown was stopped by Fleury. He is now 0-for-1 on the year.
James Neal was stopped by Fleury.
Simon Gagne was stopped by Fleury. He is now 0-for-2 on the year.
Chris Kunitz came in and scored to win the game.
Mike Richards did not get a shootout attempt after failing on his penalty shot attempt earlier… He is now 0-for-6 in penalty shots in his career, but did score on one in the playoffs with the Flyers against the Capitals in the first round in 2008. As mentioned earlier, Jonathan Quick was 10-0 in shootouts last year and the Kings were 10-2, but Quick and the Kings are 0-2 on the year in shootouts so far.
So after a loss that if you’re a Kings fan made you want to throw up afterwards, the Kings head to San Jose on Monday night for a rematch of last year’s playoff match up, where the Kings will seek revenge from their six-game defeat, but more importantly, try and right this season’s ship. Stay tuned for a game preview before the puck drops at 10:30 PM ET/7:30 PM PT at the HP Pavillion at San Jose.