Forecheck vs. forecheck. Defense vs. defense.
The Kings came out of it with a 4-3 loss at Staples Center. They made another spirited late run with goals by Trevor Lewis and Tyler Toffoli but will take a two-game losing streak into their bye week.
Here’s what we learned:
The outgoing message was positive. The Kings’ dressing room was closed for an unusually longer time postgame, and the comments suggested that coach John Stevens wanted them to go into next week thinking positively.
“I think we’ve done some good things,” Tanner Pearson said. “There’s some things we’ll probably look at to clean up after the break, but as of right now, we’re in a playoff spot, so that’s a good thing.”
Stevens alluded to the Kings’ 57-25 goal differential in the third period when he discussed those positives.
“Probably the most exciting thing about this group is they have a way to stick around hockey games,” Stevens said. “They have this innate ability to try and win games.”
This would be an intense playoff series. Each game might take 3½ hours, but judging by the tension between the Kings and Predators, they would put on a terrifically hard-fought clash.
At one point Saturday, P.K. Subban jawed with Marian Gaborik — hardly known as a trash talker — in the penalty box after each was given a minor for slashing. There were hard hits — some that crossed the line such as Pontus Aberg’s dangerous boarding hit on Jonny Brodzinski. But overall, the dynamic here has the makings of an eventual playoff bloodbath.
Drew Doughty won’t stop talking. That’s not really a bad thing. His passion is infectious and it helps sell the game in terms of putting a joyous face on a phenomenally talented player. Doughty is the first to admit he barks at the referees too much though, and he was given his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty this season following an interference penalty.
“I think Drew was just amped up,” Stevens said. “I think he knew that with [Jake Muzzin] out of the lineup [we were] really going to need him to step up, like he does always, quite honestly. But I think he was frustrated with the call initially. I think in his mind he didn’t say anything, but I think they were reacting to the noise being made going into the box.”