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ROYAL ROAD REPORT: TOUGH DEBUT

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings
PITTSBURGH – The Kings battled hard against the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday night at the Mellon Arena but came up short in the 4-1 loss. Despite trailing the Penguins by four goals going into the third period, the Kings never quit skating and played a full 60-minute match.


Michal Handzus netted the Kings’ lone goal on a five-on-three advantage during the third period. Handzus deflected the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury off of Drew Doughty’s shot from the point for the score.

The Kings loss on Friday follows a clutch, 3-2 overtime victory over the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins on Thursday night. The Kings have four more games on their season-long road trip before returning home to Los Angeles.

THE MISSING LINK
The Kings were unable to convert on a few power-play chances early in the game that might have helped them net an early lead on the Penguins.

“We had the power play early and we didn’t score and then we give up the third goal,” Handzus said. “To come back from three or four goals down is really tough. I thought we played a stronger game last night (in Boston). We had a lot of shots last night, we didn’t have as many today. We had some rebounds that we scored last night and we didn’t get to those tonight.”

Pittsburgh netmnder Marc-Andre Fleury left few rebounds and seemed like a brick wall for the first two periods of the game, stopping everything the Kings shot his way. The Kings outshot the Penguins, 18-15 in the first two periods.

“You just score one goal (on the power play) and it would be an interesting game,” Handzus said. ”Our power play today wasn’t very good. Earlier we had the two power plays and didn’t score one goal and that’s the difference.”

Head coach Terry Murray agreed that Los Angeles’ power play could have turned the outcome of the game.

“(This game) was decided … I think in the first period, whenever the two power plays were there for us in the early part of the period and we didn’t get the momentum that we like to get,” Murray said. “There wasn’t offensive zone possession time. We didn’t look like we could get things organized and from that point on, we didn’t have that system, that structure that you like to see until the third period.”

NEVER GIVE UP
The Kings didn’t get the rebounds they were looking for against the Penguins, but it was not for lack of trying. Even though the scoreboard didn’t reflect it, Los Angeles skated with Pittsburgh for a full 60 minutes.

“We had the shots, but I think we didn’t go to the net as hard as we should,” Handzus said. “There was a rebound there we just didn’t get to and those were the shots that we should score. They got those (rebounds) sooner than us … and they just took it from there.”

“We battled, we fought hard,” netminder Jonathan Quick said. “We just didn’t have it today. From front to back I’m sure everyone would say that we played a little bit better, but we battled until the end even when it was, 4-0, there in the third - we were still fighting.”

“You have to keep playing the game,” Murray said. “You have to keep working at your game and that was really important whenever you are in that situation and when your down, 4-0, that you play the right way. Don’t get carried away, we’re a young hockey club that has to figure this out.”

The Kings will next face the Chicago Blackhawks Sunday at noon on its season-long six game road trip.

“We head to Chicago next and they have a good club in Chicago so we’ll have to fight hard against them,” Quick said.

NOTES
Right Wing Justin Williams made his first appearance with the Los Angeles Kings in Friday’s match with the Penguins after recovering from a broken hand. He played on the second line with Jarret Stoll and Kyle Calder, playing 13-plus minutes on 19 shifts.

Compiled by Deborah Francisco | Special to LAKings.com
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