Three key aspects of the Kings’ 3-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils...
1. MISSED SCORING CHANCES
Groan after groan filled Staples Center. Simon Gagne with a clear chance. No goal, groan. Trevor Lewis with a clear chance. No goal, groan. Dustin Penner with a clear chance. No goal, groan. It’s no secret that the first goal of any game is critical, and it seems to be extra-important to both the Kings and the New Jersey Devils, both of whom adore playing with the lead. The Kings had a handful of stellar opportunities to get that lead but didn’t. Martin Brodeur deserves a tip of the cap for that, but the Kings also had an astonishing total of 23 missed shots, compared to 22 shots on goal. Gripping the sticks too tight, in a potential Cup-clinching game? Probably.
2. THIRD-PERIOD BREAKDOWNS
The Kings had to feel pretty comfortable going into the third period last night. Yes, it was a scoreless game and, no, the Kings hadn’t dominated by any means, but they have owned the third period of late. Had owned, that is. The Kings, prior to Game 4, had allowed only one third-period goal in their previous nine games. In 17 playoff games, the Kings had outscored the opposition by a combined margin of 15-5 in the third period. The Devils, though, burned the Kings for three third-period goals, the last of which went into an empty net. The Devils outshot the Kings 13-8 in the third period. They didn’t dominate, but they made two huge plays that led to goals.
3. TOP-LINE VANISHING ACT
Given out strong Anze Kopitar has played throughout these playoffs, it’s foolish to pile on after one game, but the statistics and the game video from Game 4 won’t be kind to Kopitar. He did get an assist, when he faceoff win led to Drew Doughty’s power-play goal, but in 22 minutes, 9 seconds, of ice time, Kopitar did not record a shot on goal and attempted only one, which was credited as a missed shot. Linemate Justin Williams didn’t record a shot on goal either. Dustin Brown was credited with two, but also got charged with five giveaways and took a bad tripping penalty. The Kings were charged with 17 giveaways, and 10 came from the first line.