LOS ANGELES – The Kings surrendered three second period goals in a 1:06 minute span, sending the club into a tailspin that led them to a 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils Wednesday night at STAPLES Center.
The early stages of the game presented numerous opportunities for the Kings to get their offense rolling. With three first period power plays, the Kings were extremely ineffective, registering only a single shot on their flurry of man advantage situations.
“On our power play, we had three opportunities right at the beginning of the game,” said Alec Martinez following the game. “We’ve got to capitalize on those, especially against a team like that.”
To make matter worse, the Devils turned right around and scored the night’s opening goal on their first power play of the evening when Steve Bernier punched home New Jersey’s first goal with 13 seconds left in the opening frame.
“Our penalty kill is just draining us,” Darryl Sutter stressed following the loss. “It takes so much out of your team. It is really disappointing.”
The Kings would recoup and tie the game just over a minute into the first period, when Drew Doughty fed Dustin Brown a pass after rushing the puck through New Jersey defenseman deep into the Devils’ zone.
Brown found an open lane, and Doughty found Brown. For Brown, it was his seventh goal of the season, and his first in 17 games. The Kings’ Captain now has five points (1G, 4A) in the last six games.
Then, the Kings collapsed.
The Devils poured on four straight goals, including three in a 1:06 minute span to take a 5-1 lead into the second intermission. Martin Jones was pulled in favor of Jonathan Quick after New Jersey took a 3-1 lead, but Quick didn’t fare much better, allowing two goals on the seven shots he faced. Jones returned to play the third period.
The Kings inched back in the third, but it was too little too late.
Marian Gaborik got the Kings to within three with just under 13 minutes to play in regulation when he punched home a rebound off of a Brayden McNabb shot from the point.
For Gaborik, he extended his team-lead in goals scored to 15 on the season. Gaborik has a goal in each of the Kings’ previous three games, and has 15 points (11G, 5A) in his last 16.
Justin Williams found the back of the net with just under a minute to play, redirecting a Mike Richards wrist shot past Corey Schneider to bring the Kings to within two. Unfortunately, that’s as close as the Kings would get with the time they had to work with.
“We just need more effort and a willingness to get it done,” stressed Matt Greene after the game. “I’m speaking for myself, but that’s what has to get better. Everybody has to get better, but it starts with yourself. The coaches have been doing a good job of breaking it down for us every night; it’s just a matter of us showing up and doing it.”
Brayden McNabb (2A) and Justin Williams (1G, 1A) led all Kings players in points scored, Dustin Brown in shots taken (4), Jarret Stoll in hits delivered (5), Alec Martinez in shots blocked (3), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (27:51). Jonathan Quick made 5 saves and Martin Jones made 10 saves in the loss.
With the loss, the Kings’ record drops to 20-14-10; their mark on home ice at STAPLES Center dips to 15-6-4. The Kings, now 1-2-2 on their current seven game home stand, will host the Anaheim Ducks Saturday night at STAPLES Center. The puck is slated to drop at 7:30PM PT.