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Kings push late, but can't overcome Flyers' early lead

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings

LOS ANGELES – The Kings applied pressure late, but it wasn’t enough to overcome their rather lethargic start as they fell to the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 Saturday afternoon at STAPLES Center.

The Flyers, who have had a difficult start to their season, continued their success in Los Angeles today. They have not lost a game in regulation at STAPLES Center since October 21, 2003; they are 5-0-1 during that span.

“We can be happy about the second part of the second period and the third period, but we definitely can’t be satisfied with the way we came out again,” Anze Kopitar said following the loss. “We just didn’t get it going right off the start and we were playing catch-up hockey for the most part, and that’s hard.”

The Kings hampered themselves by struggling on the power play, they were unable to execute on any of their five opportunities on the afternoon. The Flyers came into the game dead last (30th) in the NHL in penalty kill success, but jumped to 25th after keeping the Kings’ power play quiet.

Philadelphia got on the scoreboard less than five minutes into the game when defenseman Drew Doughty got caught stranded as the Flyers moved the puck swiftly upon entering the Kings’ zone.

Doughty, concentrating on Claude Giroux, lost his positioning as Giroux pulled off a nifty give-and-go cycle atop the Kings’ zone. Mark Streit fed Giroux, who was wide open high in the slot, and the Flyers’ captain rifled home a shot high to Jonathan Quick’s blocker side.

Girouxe’s goal, his eighth of the season, gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead heading into the second period.

Jarret Stoll, who took three penalties on the evening, was called for a slashing infraction :38 seconds into the middle frame. It was Philadelphia’s second power play of the afternoon, and they used it to produce their second goal of the day.

Former King Wayne Simmonds, who received a quick pass from Sean Couturier on a three-on-two rush, stickhandled his way through defensemen Dwight King and Matt Greene and snuck a quick shot through the five-hole of Jonathan Quick.

For Simmonds, it was his second game back at STAPLES Center since he was traded to the Flyers on June 23, 2011. In two games back in Los Angeles, Simmonds now has registered three points (2G, 1A) against his former team.

The Kings entered the third and final period facing a two-goal deficit, but Justin Williams cut into the Flyers’ lead, getting the Kings on the board with just under 16 minutes left to play in regulation.

As the Kings were putting on pressure in Philadelphia’s zone, Robyn Regehr took a shot from the point that bounced around in front of Steve Mason’s net while Jarret Stoll and Justin Williams hacked away for a rebound opportunity.

Williams finally settled down the puck, found an opening, and buried his sixth goal of the season, beating Mason, who was sprawled and out of position due to all of the traffic in his crease.

With his goal, Williams now has points in each of the past two games (1G, 1A), and 10 points (5G, 5A) in his last 10 games. Stoll, with the assist on Williams’ goal, has nine points (3G, 6A) in the Kings’ previous 10.

Williams’ marker seemed to put a jolt into the Kings, who fired away for 16 shots during the final 20 minutes of play. The Kings couldn’t bury the equalizer though, even with two power play opportunities during the final five minutes of the game.

The Kings, on the afternoon, went 0-for-5 on the power play. Philadelphia came into the game with the worst penalty kill in the league.

“We weren’t prepared for the one o’clock game today,” Williams said of the loss. “We weren’t ready to go right away and got behind. At the same time, times when you’re behind you have a chance to come back and we certainly had our chances to come back to atone for our start of the game.”

The Flyers only registered 16 shots on Jonathan Quick, but it was enough for them to squeak away with the win. The 16 shots allowed tied the Kings’ season-low; they held the Minnesota Wild to 16 shots on October 19.

The Kings blocked 22 Philadelphia shots on the afternoon, which helps explain the Flyers’ utterly low shot-total. The Kings’ 22 blocks ties a season-high mark.

Justin Williams (1G), Jarret Stoll (1A), and Robyn Regehr (1A) led all Kings players in points scored (1), Anze Kopitar in shots taken (6), Dustin Brown and Jake Muzzin in hits delivered (4), Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar, and Alec Martinez in shots blocked (1), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (30:00). Jonathan Quick made 14 saves in the loss.

With the loss, the Kings’ record drops to 14-8-5, and their mark at STAPLES Center falls to 11-4-1. The Kings will now venture off on a five-game road trip starting Tuesday night in Western New York when they take on the Buffalo Sabres. The puck is slated to drop at 4:30PM PT.

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