Look purely at the scoreboard after Friday night’s match-up between the Buffalo Sabres and Los Angeles Kings and you might think the 5-0 score indicated a one-sided affair.
Watch the game film and you’ll think otherwise.
The Kings’ first road trip of the season got off to a bumpy start when the team bus nearly got stuck on its way to the hotel due to a Buffalo blizzard and then their offense stalled in HSBC Arena.
But the Kings weren’t victimized the way a five-goal deficit would imply. Los Angeles out skated, out hit and out played the Sabres for 60 minutes. They just didn’t get the results their effort warranted.
“It’s scoring,” said coach Terry Murray. “When I looked at this team in the summer time, I thought we had three lines that could contribute and do a decent job of the offensive part of things.
“We’re just having a tough time finding the net right now.”
Grabbing momentum and garnering play from the opening puck drop, Los Angles out shot Buffalo in each period and by a lopsided 40-22 margin for the game.
The Kings couldn’t catch a break anywhere near Sabres netminder Ryan Miller.
“We didn’t play poorly, nothing went right for us,” said goaltender Jason LaBarbera, who lost his third straight game after allowing four goals off 14 shots. “Three of their [five] goals were off someone and into the net.
“We were skating and we had our legs. Nothing seemed to go right.”
But there are some positives that can be gleamed from the the Kings generated chances while limiting their opposition’s.
“We just have to hang in there mentally,” said Murray. “We’ve got a young group of guys, so we just have to keep pushing on.”
LEWIS MAKES HIS DEBUT
Center Trevor Lewis will forever remember Buffalo and not just for the frigid weather.
Replacing demoted Oscar Moller on the Kings’ fourth line, the rookie pivot skated in his first career NHL game, but unfortunately, did so without a member of his family in attendance.
Centering a line with Raitis Ivanans and John Zeiler, the Salt Lake City, UT native saw over nine minutes of ice time off 15 shifts while his father, whose flight to Buffalo was canceled due to the weather, was forced to watch on television.
“Nerves kind of took me through that one,” said Lewis. “After the first period, I kind of settled down.”
Despite spending his first game as a member of the checking line, Lewis’ value is as a skilled performer whose speed helped propel him to the professional ranks.
As a member of the Manchester Monarchs this season, the 2006 USHL Player of the Year was tied with fellow King Teddy Purcell and Gabe Gauthier for the team scoring lead (19 points).
Like all rookies, Lewis said the most difficult adjustment was to the speed of the game and the intelligence of the opposing players.
“I liked it,” said Murray regarding Lewis’ play. “Talking with some of the other coaches who know him really well, his improvement has gone on the upswing considerably since the training camp.
“It was a real positive night for him.”
Said Lewis: “I’ve been watching those guys on TV for forever, so it was pretty surreal but a lot of fun.”
UPDATE ON TOM AND DEREK
Veteran defenseman Tom Preissing and injured center Derek Armstrong were each scratched for the contest. The game marked the ninth consecutive that Preissing has watched from the press box, while Armstrong, who remained in Los Angeles, is still recovering from a collision with the Colorado Avalanche’s Cody McLeod on Dec. 9.
“[Armstrong] is getting better,” said Murray. “He’s got a slight concussion and he has to go through the baseline testing.
“We’re hoping that by the time we get back or the start of the New Year he’s ready to go.”
QUICK'S SEASON DEBUT...QUICK
Jonathon Quick’s first appearance this season in the Kings crease was just that, quick. The 22-year-old netminder was called in relief of LaBarbera five minutes into the third period after Drew Stafford’s power play goal gave Buffalo a 4-0 lead.
While some may think the short-notice activation would add a layer of difficultly to Quick’s debut, he tends to disagree.
“I guess you could say that it was a little bit easier,” said Quick. “You’re not really sitting around the locker room thinking about [your first start].”
Coach Terry Murray stated Saturday morning that Quick will start against the Detroit Red Wings.
Patrick O’Sullivan saw his six game-point streak (1+6=7) come to a conclusion in the loss. O'Sullivan was just one point away from tying his longest career streak at seven games.
Written by Brian Wheeler