A rather deflating start to the third period Thursday night put the Kings back on their heels during the game’s critical juncture in a 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at the MTS Centre.
The Kings’ three-game road trip ended without a win; they have lost three consecutive games in regulation now for the first time since, well, the first three games of the season (October 7-13).
“On the road, you’ve got to be winning games too,” Drew Doughty said. “It doesn’t matter where we’re playing, we’ve got to win games, you can’t be losing three games in a row at any time throughout the season. It’s really frustrating that we did this, and we need to fix things.”
Following a win streak that saw the Kings topple four of the NHL’s best, the team hasn’t been able to widen or close the gaps in the standings necessary to make a case for claiming the top spot in their division and conference.
“These are games that we could have separated ourselves a little bit,” said Jeff Carter. “We’ve got to get going here, we’re running out of games, you can’t get to the playoffs and then flip the switch, so we’ve got a lot of work to do here in the next couple weeks.”
Anze Kopitar got the Kings on the board first Thursday night when he beat Winnipeg’s Ondrej Pavelec with a wrist-shot to the far side after driving the Jets’ zone wide to the right.
Kopitar’s goal, his 25th of the season, gave the Kings a 1-0 lead with 10:35 to play in the second period.
The Jets tied the game with 1:40 to play in the middle frame when Adam Lowry jammed his own rebound past Jonathan Quick.
With the scored knotted entering the third, Winnipeg struck for a pair of goals in a 2:39 minute span to jump out to a 3-1 lead with 17:06 left in regulation. Both of the Jets’ goals came off of shots from the right point.
Winnipeg’s Drew Stafford added an empty-net goal with 1:58 to play to seal the game.
The Kings are now 1-1-0 in two meetings with the Jets; Winnipeg will pay a visit to STAPLES Center on April 9 to complete the season series.
Drew Doughty (1A), Anze Kopitar (1G) and Jeff Carter (1A) led all Kings players in points scored (1), Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter in shots taken (6), Brayden McNabb in hits delivered (4), five different players in shots blocked (2), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (23:49). Jonathan Quick made 20 saves in the loss.
The Kings now return home for a one-game stint on home ice when they host the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night at STAPLES Center, where the puck is scheduled to drop just after 7:30 PM PST.