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The Key Three: Jan. 12

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Three key aspects of the Kings’ 5-4 shootout loss to the Dallas Stars...

It’s probably a folly to attempt to attach any real significance to this game. It’s a one-off, a game that only happens a couple times a season, a game that doesn’t really fit in any type of context. The Kings struggled defensively early, then roared back with four goals. Their slumbering power play generated three goals -- yes, three -- but the air-tight penalty kill gave up one, on a fluky own goal. Go figure. If the Kings can take away anything from the game, it’s this: the game turned wacky early because the Kings weren’t their typically sold defensive selves. Offense is important, but the Kings can’t afford to break from their structure.

In terms of impact on a single game, it’s hard to imagine a more dramatic play than the one that took place with less than nine minutes remaining in the third period. Dallas’ Brenden Morrow smashed Anze Kopitar with a shoulder-to-chest/shoulder hit, and Mike Richards promptly jumped Morrow and ended up getting two minor penalties and a 10-minute misconduct. In that one sequence, the Kings lost their two top centers and had to kill a four-minute power play, which they weren’t able to do. It’s hard to fault Richards, though. Could he have removed his helmet? Yes, but he made a split-second reaction in order to defend a teammate.

A 2-0 deficit in the first period? A 3-1 deficit in the second period? The Kings were done, right? It’s been more than a calendar year since the Kings rallied from a two-goal deficit to win a game, so the odds dictated it. Of course, the Kings didn’t actually win Thursday’s game, but they showed the type of fight-back that had too often been absent under previous coach Terry Murray. Who would have guessed that the power play would be the hero, with three goals, a mark the Kings hadn’t achieved in nearly two years. The Kings need more wins and fewer shootout losses, but there were positives to take from this one.
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