If someone had told the Kings at the beginning of the season that it would take them until their 17th game before they lost two straight, they would probably be good with that.
Nevertheless, the way they’ve lost these last two games is disconcerting. They’ve struggled to take care of the puck and could not get through the neutral zone cleanly in a 2-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday at Staples Center.
It’s the team’s first back-to-back losses since March 25-28 of last season.
Here’s what we learned:
Giveaways are piling up
The last three games have largely seen the Kings scrambling to break out, move through center ice and defend a forecheck.
They’ve committed 18, 17 and 18 giveaways in each of the last three games, against the Anaheim Ducks, Tampa Bay Lightning and San Jose. Coach John Stevens said he saw his team “really get off track” in moving the puck up ice.
“We had pucks that were turned over in the neutral zone,” Stevens said. “Had a chance to get in deep that really allowed their transition game to get going, and you could clearly see they just wanted to establish their forecheck. It’s the M.O. of their team. We talked about the need to play 60 minutes tonight. I thought we played 20 really well and then 40 the way they wanted to play.”
Martin Jones is San Jose’s MVP
The former Kings goalie kept his team in it and made at least three quality stops on Tyler Toffoli. Not much has gone as planned for San Jose, which has struggled in even-strength scoring and is still looking for its first goal from Brent Burns.
Jones has been there. He was the NHL’s third star of last week, and he improved to 7-3-2 against the Kings in his career, matched against former teammate Jonathan Quick.
“They’re always a tough team to play against,” Jones said. “It’s tough to get chances and when you do, you have to deal with Quickie. You definitely have to win those games, especially against these guys.”
Kings’ third-period stranglehold broken
Before Sunday, the Kings were 5-0-0 when leading after two periods. A 1-0 lead going into the third period isn’t much of a margin, but their lost lead is the first real crack in what has been a Kings staple — closing out games.