The three key aspects of the Kings’ 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday afternoon...
1. Power-play swing The Kings had a marvelous opportunity to take an early lead, as the Canadiens took two penalties in the game’s first five minutes, the second of which led to a 39-seconds 5-on-3 advantage for the Kings. They didn’t score, nor did they score on a power-play with less than seven minutes remaining in the period. Naturally, then, the Canadiens got a power play late in the first period and scored. The Kings had killed 24 consecutive penalties, and the Canadiens hadn’t scored a power-play goal in six consecutive games. The Kings could have taken a first-period lead, or at least been even. Instead, they trailed at intermission.
2. Second-period slumber The Kings outshot the Canadiens 14-5 in the first period and had a handful of quality scoring chances, but went into the locker room trailing 1-0. Did they feel deflated? It certainly looked at that way at the start of the second period, as the Kings came out flat and the Canadiens scored a goal midway through the period to lead 2-0. Then, during a Kings power play, Terry Murray called a timeout that had nothing to do with Xs and Os. Murray ripped his team’s effort, and the Kings responded fairly quickly with a power-play goal, but then went back into their shells for most of the third period, during which they had only six shots on goal.
3. No net presence Don’t let Carey Price’s stats be deceiving. Price is, in a technical sense, one of the strongest goalies in the NHL, and the Kings simply let him see too many pucks. Even when the Kings got shots from potentially dangerous scoring areas, Price was too often able to push rebounds into the corner or have his defensemen clear them away. Why? Because the Kings weren’t doing the dirty work to clog up the front of the net. On one of the few times they did it effectively, Dustin Penner scored the only goal on a tip-in. Ironically, the Kings twice put quite a bit of pressure on Price, when they were called for goalie interference, that is.