It's been a busy three weeks for the
All of which left Wednesday's game with the defending
And that's exactly what it proved to be — for the Kings, who couldn't overcome a combination of bad luck and even worse play in a 5-3 loss that was more one-sided on the ice than it was on the scoreboard.
How bad was it?
The Devils' first two goals came off the skate of a Kings defenseman.
The Devils scored three times — against two different goaltenders — during a 68-second span midway through the second period. New Jersey had scored as many as three goals in a game just five times in its previous 18 outings. And their five goals on the night matched their best output since the season-opener, when they had six.
Meanwhile, the Kings, who were booed off the ice after the second period, have allowed 21 goals in their last five games. That total would be even worse but the only win in those five games was a shutout.
"You give up five goals you can't say they're lucky goals," Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said. "You give up four, you're going to get beat. That's real."
"Yeah we got some bad breaks," he said. "But emotionally we weren't there to grind out a game 2-1. Sometimes you feel great, sometimes you don't. But you still find ways to get wins and we aren't even doing that."
And as if all that's not bad enough, there's this: The collapse comes during an important 31/2-week stretch for the Kings, who are battling to keep their heads above water in the playoff race.
Wednesday's game was the fifth of seven in a row at home, where the Kings have the league's fifth-best record. Shortly after this month's All-Star game, they head out for five games on the road – where they have the league's fifth-worst record.
The point being, the Kings have to win at home. But they behind fell behind, 1-0, in the waning seconds of a sloppy first period in which they had almost as many power plays (three) as shots (five). And though that goal was credited to
The Kings came out with some urgency in the second period, scoring 74 seconds after the intermission on a goal by
The tie lasted less than eight minutes before Bernier picked up another gift goal, this time on an errant puck that hit the skate of a prone
Jones was pulled 23 seconds later after he gave another weak goal — this one to
The Devils showed no more respect for Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, however, with Mike Cammalleri and
Greene said the Kings need to rededicate themselves if they hope to stay in a playoff race that appears to have started without them.
"We just need more effort and a willingness to get it done," he said. "I'm speaking for myself, but that's what has to get better.
"We have to get points every time we can. We're struggling to hang on to playoff spot. We need every point."
Jones came back to start the third period and finished strong, stopping five shots. But the only offense the Kings could muster behind him came on
"It's a matter of making better decisions in our own end. And capitalizing on our opportunities, playing a bit more physical," he said.
Times staff writer Helene Elliott contributed to this story.