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Kings stymied by Rask, fall 3-1 in Boston

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings

A solid performance didn’t yield the results the Kings were looking for in a hard-fought 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins Saturday evening at TD Garden.

The Kings may match up better with the Bruins than any other club in the Eastern Conference, and it showed in what was a tightly contested affair in downtown Boston Saturday night.

By no means was it a disappointing effort by the Kings, who matched Boston’s physicality, puck possession, and speed throughout the night. The Kings’ biggest struggle was Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, who stymied the Kings, stopping 30 of the 31 shots fired his way.

“I think you just have to take the positives out of it and leave the rest,” Dustin Brown mentioned in regards to the Kings building off of Saturday’s performance. “We score on a couple more of our chances here, it’s a different game for us and that’s something you can learn from. We work really hard to get good chances. That’s when we need to bear down and get them.”

Boston’s Brad Marchand opened the scoring with under three minutes to play in the second period, firing a wrist-shot from atop the right circle through traffic and past Jonathan Quick to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.

The Kings entered the third working on their only power play of the evening, but generated zero shots on the man-advantage, forcing themselves to register the game-tying goal during even-strength play.

Jordan Nolan got that much-needed goal for the Kings, in what was arguably his best game of the season to date. Nolan played a season-high 13:12 minutes, laid out five hits, and scored on his only shot taken to breath life into a frustrated Kings offense.

With just over seven minutes left in regulation, Drew Doughty led a Kings break-out and found Nolan with a crisp pass along the left boards as he surged through the neutral zone. Nolan, upon entering Boston’s zone, fired a wrist shot that ricochet and beat Tuukka Rask high to the glove side to even the score with seven minutes to play.

“I was just trying to get it on the net and hope for a good bounce, a good rebound or whatever,” Nolan said of his goal. “It was fortunate for it to go in.”

The Bruins reclaimed the lead less than two minutes after Nolan’s equalizer, when Chris Kelly redirected a shot from the point past Jonathan Quick. Brad Marchand chipped in with an empty-net goal with 17 seconds left to play to secure a 3-1 win for the Bruins.

The Kings are currently on the outside looking in when it comes to playoff seeding, one point behind the Calgary Flames for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Kings will have to recover quickly on this road-trip before things start to slip away.

“We look at the standings every day,” Brown noted following the loss. “If you’re not, then I don’t know what’s wrong with you. But again, there is nothing we can do about it tonight. It’s about getting focused for Washington.”

Three different players (Jordan Nolan, 1G), (Drew Doughty, 1A), and (Jake Muzzin, 1A) registered one point, Drew Doughty led all Kings players in shots taken (4), Jordan Nolan in hits delivered (5), Jake Muzzin and Jarret Stoll in shots blocked (2), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (29:10). Jonathan Quick made 30 saves in the loss.

With the loss, the Kings’ record falls to 21-16-12; their mark away from STAPLES Center drops to 5-10-6. The Kings will continue on their five-game road trip when they pay a visit to the Verizon Center on Tuesday night to take on the Washington Capitals. The puck is slated to drop at 4:00PM PT.

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