LOS ANGELES – The Winnipeg Jets scored goals on each and every one of their first three shots taken Saturday night, but the Kings still managed to eek out a point in a 5-4 shootout loss at STAPLES Center.
“We can’t give up five goals and expect to win a hockey game,” Alec Martinez stressed following the loss. “That’s what it comes down to. You can have first period starts like we’ve had. In the second half we started playing more of a team game. We started to match their physical play, but at the end of the day you can’t give up that many goals and expect to win.”
A dreadful start, such as the Kings had Saturday evening, requires a valiant comeback effort, which the team showed as they rattled off four consecutive goals to erase the early deficit.
With just over five minutes remaining in the first period, the Kings were granted a lengthy 5-on-3 power play. Here, the Kings got the opportunities they wanted, and with a pair of goals scored 1:27 minute span, they pushed themselves right back into a game they seemed to have no control of.
While the Kings were two men up, Anze Kopitar slammed home a rebound from a Drew Doughty shot past Winnipeg’s Michael Hutchinson to get the offense rolling.
Kopitar, set up on the back door as Doughty lined up for his shot, caught a bouncing rebound with his skate, kicked it to his stick, and tucked the puck into a wide open net. For Kopitar, it was his ninth goal of the season, and his first in six games.
Moments later, with the Kings still on a 5-on-4 power play, Justin Williams got the Kings to within one after initially being denied by Hutchinson on his attempt to deflect home a Jake Muzzin shot from the point.
Hutchinson, though, couldn’t control the puck after the initial stop, and Williams pounced on the loose puck, which lay up for grabs in Winnipeg’s crease. Williams now has three goals in the previous two games.
After a scoreless second period, the Kings’ offense got back to work early in the third period.
Marian Gaborik tied the game 3-3 just over a minute into the third, burying an Anze Kopitar centering pass that hit off the skate of Winnipeg’s Toby Entrom and bounced right onto the stick of the Kings’ forward.
The puck’s movement from the deflection off of Winnipeg defenseman caught Michael Hutchinson out of position, and Gaborik chipped the fumbling puck high to the top right corner for his team-leading 13th goal of the season.
With just under eight minutes to play, Kyle Clifford gave the Kings their first lead of the night when he buried a Trevor Lewis feed amidst traffic in front of Winnipeg’s net. Clifford’s shot bounced off the skate of Winnipeg’s Mark Stuart and past Hutchinson; it was the Kings’ fourth consecutive goal of the evening.
A couple of minutes later, Zach Bogosian buried a wrist shot from the point to once again tie the game 4-4.
After a scoreless overtime period, the game headed to a shootout – where neither team was able to find the net until the fourth round. It was Winnipeg’s Bryan Little who struck for that goal, securing a 5-4 shootout win for the Jets.
The Kings are now 2-10 this season when playing in games that extend past regulation time. Going 0-4 in the shootout Saturday night, the Kings have now failed to score on their previous 19 shootout attempts.
Now 0-1-2 on their current seven-game home stand, the Kings need to find a way to rebound quickly on home ice.
“We know how to come back, but we can’t put ourselves in a hole like that,” said Marian Gaborik following the shootout loss. “Starts are important, and we need to put together 60 minutes a game and play 60 minutes. This is the second half of the year right now, and every team that’s playing us know who they’re playing, and they’re playing desperate hockey. We have to play 60 minutes no matter what, and we have to put some wins together at home right now.”
Tanner Pearson suffered a broken ankle/lower leg in the second period and is out indefinitely. Tyler Toffoli was diagnosed with mono Friday night, and is out indefinitely as well.
Drew Doughty (2A), Anze Kopitar (1G, 1A), and Marian Gaborik (1G, 1A) led all Kings players in points scored, Matt Greene and Anze Kopitar in shots taken (4), Trevor Lewis in hits delivered (7), Alec Martinez in shots blocked (4), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (33:45). Jonathan Quick made 21 saves in the loss.
With the loss, the Kings’ record dips to 19-13-10; their mark on home at STAPLES Center falls to 14-5-4. The Kings will continue their home stand Monday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs make their only visit to Los Angeles this season. The puck is slated to drop at 7:30PM PT.