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The Key Three: Feb. 3

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Three key aspects of the Kings’ 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues...

The Kings were playing on the road, and against a St. Louis team that was coming off nine days off. Those were two major reasons the Kings needed a strong start, needed to dictate the play from the opening faceoff. The Kings got off to a decent start, as they recorded five of the game’s first six shots, but then the Kings fell off the table. The Blues didn’t show any rust in the first period, and they regularly moved as a five-man unit to set up threatening chances in the Kings’ zone. The Blues didn’t score a first-period goal, but they seemed to put the Kings on their heels, and they took momentum into the second.

In a matchup of two of the top defensive teams in the league, it stood to reason that any miscue would get magnified. The biggest one of the game turned into a goal for the Blues. Just over eight minutes into the third period, Drew Doughty had a decision to make near the Kings’ blue line. He could attempt to play the puck, with Matt D’Agostini coming at him, or he could take the body. Doughty chose the latter, and attempted to line up D’Agostini for a hip check along the boards, but the Blues forward saw it coming. D’Agostini pushed past Doughty and fed Jamie Langenbrunner for a one-time goal and a 1-0 Blues lead.

Given the Kings’ lack of scoring this season, it’s natural -- and not entirely inaccurate -- to think, ``same old Kings’’ when they fail to score. Give credit also, though, to the Blues, who have completely bought in to coach Ken Hitchcock’s message. The Blues frustrated the Kings early and often, both with an aggressive forecheck and with an ability to recover pucks in the defensive zone, after the Kings attempted to dump the puck and chase it down. Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak didn’t face much pressure in the first two periods, but made a couple first-class saves and got the win after two previous losses to the Kings.
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