PITTSBURGH – The Penguins came into Thursday night’s date with the Kings yielding the NHL’s top power play unit, marking in with an astounding 40.6% success rate.
The Kings tested it early, and often, taking eight minor penalties on the evening, including four in the first period, awarding the Penguins a total of six power plays on the night.
Pittsburgh took advantage while the Kings found themselves a man down for a large portion of the first period, giving the Kings little to no opportunity to create any offensive pressure. The Penguins, one of the faster teams in the league, had the Kings on their heels from the start.
Chris Kunitz got Pittsburgh on the board just over nine minutes into the game on the Penguins’ second power play of the night. Kunitz, who has owned the Kings in recent years, also chipped in the third and final goal of the night, upping his rather impressive numbers against Los Angeles.
Kunitz has now scored at least one goal against the Kings in the last five games he’s played them, and has six goals in his past seven games against Los Angeles. Kunitz finished the night with three points (2G, 1A).
Kris Letang was the other goal scorer for Pittsburgh tonight, netting the Penguins’ second goal of the night on what was their fourth power play of the evening.
The Kings outshot the Penguins by a wide margin, 36-23, but the quality chances just weren’t there.
“We’ve got to get more pucks and more bodies to the net,” Jake Muzzin said following the loss. “You know, tips, rebounds, screens, and doing that will lead to our Grade A scoring chances that we didn’t get too many of tonight, so those are things we need to look at and improve on.”
The loss to Pittsburgh marked just the Kings’ second loss in regulation time through nine games this season, the other coming on October 8 against the San Jose Sharks.
Martin Jones, who made his second start of the season tonight, stopped 20 of the 23 shots fired his way, and was quite solid in Jonathan Quick’s place, as the Kings’ starter rested up for Friday night’s game in Detroit. Jones has now stopped 52 of the 56 shots he’s faced this season in two starts and eight total periods of play.
Jarret Stoll led the Kings in shots (6), Alec Martinez and Robyn Regehr in hits (5), Matt Greene, Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez, and Jarret Stoll in blocked shots (2), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (30:57).
Now with a 6-2-2 record, the Kings will continue their road trip with a visit to Joe Louis Arena on Friday night to take on the Detroit Red Wings. The Kings will be looking for their first win in what is the third game of their five game trip. The puck drops at 4:30PM PT.