MONTREAL – The tables were turned on the Kings in their first trip to Quebec in over a year, as they fell to Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens by way of a 6-2 score Friday night at the Bell Centre.
Last season on December 10, in the Kings’ previous visit to Montreal, they doused the Canadiens with six goals, and Martin Jones pitched a perfect 31-save shutout performance on their way to a 6-0 win.
On Friday night, it wasn’t the same story; it was the Canadiens who registered six goals this time around, and it was Jones who played the victim. The Kings’ backup goaltender came into the game riding two consecutive shutout performances, but Montreal quickly muddled that trend, then poured it on.
Shots weren’t a problem for the Kings Friday night, as they fired off a season-high 46 on Montreal’s Carey Price, who hadn’t faced more than 38 shots in a single game this season. The Canadiens’ defense helped out their goaltender as best they could; blocking 31 Kings shots on the evening – the most any team has blocked in a single game this season in the NHL. The Kings attempted a total of 91 shots on the night.
“We know Carey Price is an unbelievable goalie, one of the best in the league,” Doughty said of the Canadiens’ goaltender following the loss. “He wins games for his team all the time. We just want to continue to get pucks to the net. As you saw in the third period, we eventually started putting pucks behind him. We started getting on a roll. And like I said, we started to cheat a little bit and not play the right way and that backfired.”
Jiri Sekac’s opening goal for the Canadiens came just over eight minutes into the game, giving Montreal a 1-0 lead, and ending Jones’ shutout streak at 154:17 consecutive minutes.
The Kings outshot Montreal 14-4 in the first period, but had nothing to show for their early efforts other than a one-goal deficit. Carey Price left the Kings’ offense bewildered as he shut down chance after chance during the opening frame, including two power play opportunities where the Kings generated high quality shots and chances.
The Canadiens got back to work immediately in the second period, scoring two more goals in a 2:44 minute span to extend their lead to 3-0. Montreal’s first two goals came during man advantage situations; the Kings have now allowed six power play goals in their last five games.
Montreal scored their first three goals on their first eight shots of the game.
Heading into the third period down three goals, Jake Muzzin gave the Kings some life when he rifled home his second goal of the season with 16:25 remaining in regulation time.
As the Kings fought for control in Montreal’s zone, Tyler Toffoli found Muzzin with a pass to the point. Muzzin, after shifting his angle to get a clear lane for his shot, fired a wrist shot that caromed off of Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov and past Carey Price.
Muzzin, with his goal, now has four points (1G, 3A) in the past two games, and 15 points (2G, 13A) in the last 17.
Montreal’s David Desharnais reclaimed the Canadiens’ three-goal lead with just over 10 minutes left to play on a wide open two-on-one sequence after the Kings were caught pressing in Montreal’s zone.
Drew Doughty answered back a minute later, keeping the Kings afloat with his third goal of the season to bring the score to 4-2.
After Mike Richards won an offensive zone faceoff, Tyler Toffoli fed Drew Doughty a pass up on the right point. Doughty, with space to maneuver, walked in to the top of the right circle and fired a slapshot past Carey Price, beating the Canadiens’ goaltender high to the glove side.
That’s as close as the Kings would get. After opening up their game in an effort to create some late-game offense, Montreal took advantage and added two more goals to finish off the night’s scoring, securing a 6-2 win.
“I thought we had a really good first period, the second period was okay, and then we pushed for the third but played the wrong way and gave up too many two-on-ones,” Kings Captain Dustin Brown said following the loss. “They have a pretty speedy, skilled team. We have to bear down on our situation.”
The Kings, with two power play chances in the first period, and three in the second, couldn’t execute on any of them. The puck movement and shot selection was there, though; the Kings rifling off 16 power play shots throughout the evening. The Kings are now 3-for-31 on the power play in their previous six games.
Drew Doughty led all Kings players in points scored (1G, 1A = 2), Dustin Brown in shots taken (8), Matt Greene in hits delivered (5), Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty in shots blocked (3), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (29:40).
With the loss, the Kings’ record dips to 15-10-5; their record away from STAPLES Center drops to 4-6-4. The Kings are 1-2-0 so far on their current five-game road trip. The Kings will travel back to Ontario to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs Sunday afternoon at the Air Canada Centre. The puck is slated to drop at 2:00PM PT.
*REPORTING FROM EL SEGUNDO, CA