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Spotty defense hampers Kings in goal-filled affair

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings

– In what was a firefight Wednesday evening at Honda Center, the Kings held three separate two-goal leads, but couldn’t shut the door on the Anaheim Ducks, falling 6-5 in a shootout.

The Kings were heavily outshot by Anaheim, 49-26. Jonathan Quick kept the Kings in a position to win until Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf tipped home the game-tying goal with just 1:39 to play in regulation time.

“I don’t think we had much energy, much focus, much execution,” Darryl Sutter said following the game. “We used a short bench. Too bad we actually lost the shootout, because then Jonathan feels tough, right? He stood on his head to get us a point.”

Offense wasn’t the issue tonight for the Kings; they scored five goals for the second consecutive game. However, the high-scoring affair may have sidetracked the Kings from maintaining a strong defensive mindset.

“I don’t think we were playing responsible in our own zone,” Drew Doughty said after the loss. “We were trying to get breakaways, trying to find odd-man rushes, and trying to make pretty plays. Against a team like that, you just can’t do that.”

Anze Kopitar gave the Kings a 1-0 lead just over nine minutes in, beating Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen low through the five-hole on a penalty shot after he was hooked down by Sami Vatanen on a breakaway.

It was Kopitar’s third career penalty shot, and his first ever time scoring on one.

Drew Doughty chimed in with under a minute to play in the second period, blasting a slap shot past Andersen to give the Kings a 2-0 lead. Doughty one-timed a carom off the sideboards, situating his shot high to the glove side. It was Doughty’s first goal of the season.

The Ducks got on the board seven minutes into the second period on a Cam Fowler goal, but Trevor Lewis answered two minutes later, handcuffing Andersen with a wrist shot to give the Kings a 2-1 lead.

Frederik Andersen was pulled in favor of Jason LaBarbera after Lewis’ goal. Andersen surrendered three goals on the ten shots he faced.

Jakob Silfverberg got the Ducks their second goal later in the second, and Ryan Kesler tied the game just over two minutes into the third, beating Jonathan Quick with a hefty wrist shot.

The Kings clawed right back, reclaiming another two-goal lead, and looked well on their way to running away with their ninth win of the season.

Marian Gaborik, with his second goal of the season, and second in as many games, caught speed from a lead pass from Drew Doughty in the neutral zone, coasted in and fired a wrister past Jason LaBarbera low to the far post.

Just over three minutes later, Justin Williams gave the Kings a 5-3 lead, chipping home a rebound from an Alec Martinez shot from the point, beating LaBarbera high to the top-shelf. Williams’ goal, like Gaborik’s, was his second of the season.

The Kings, who remain a bit depleted on defense, were exposed in the final minutes of regulation as the Ducks scrambled to fight back and tie the game.

Ryan Kesler got the Ducks to within one with just over five minutes to play when he snuck home a wrap-around attempt past Quick after getting denied on his initial backhand attempt.

With under two minutes remaining, Ryan Getlaf redirected Devante Smith-Pelly’s desperation shot from the side boards past Quick, tying the game 5-5 with 1:39 remaining in regulation.

For the fifth time this season, the Kings went to overtime. After a rather uneventful five-minute sudden death period, the game extended to a shootout – the third time the Kings have had to take to extra shots to decide a game this season.

Marian Gaborik scored on the Kings’ first attempt, Jakob Silfverberg and Ryan Kesler followed with goals for Anaheim; Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar were stonewalled by Jason LaBarbera, notching the win for the Ducks.

Jeff Carter led all Kings players in shots taken (4), Brayden McNabb in hits (6), Drew Doughty and Alec Martinez in blocked shots (4), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (30:30). Jonathan Quick made 44 saves in the loss.

With the shootout loss, the Kings’ record now falls to 8-4-4. The Kings will be back in action Thursday night at STAPLES Center, as they return to Los Angeles to begin a four-game home stand. The Dallas Stars, who the Kings beat 3-1 last Tuesday, are in town. The puck is slated to drop at 7:30PM PT.

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