And, maybe, to an era.
It wasn't enough that they shook off the two beatdowns they had absorbed in the first two games at San Jose and put together strong stretches Tuesday at
"I don't know about a sense of shock. It's certainly not satisfying," center
Maybe. But the
"It's a tough hill," Sutter said, "and we won't go quietly away, that's for sure."
They're not only fighting for their season, they might be fighting to stay together as a group.
This team has stayed largely intact for five or six years, led by a core that has grown up together and lifted the
Key players Kopitar,
But while it's great that they get along and sacrifice for each other, their struggles against the Sharks suggest this mix needs some stirring and new ingredients.
"Every team's quick now in this league. It's a fast league. It's getting faster every year," Stoll said after Tuesday's morning skate.
The Kings aren't faster or deeper than the Sharks, and the Kings' only chance to win is to play those 3-2 and 2-1 games Sutter loves.
The Sharks got better and faster. The Blues got bigger and improved their goaltending. The
The Kings' defense, never quite able to recover from losing
Drew Doughty appears to be still hampered by the shoulder injury he suffered late in the season. Mitchell has labored at times. So has Regehr.
The Kings rebounded several times Tuesday, taking leads of 2-1 and 3-2 but still falling short. "It was better," Kopitar said of the Kings' effort compared to the first two games, "but still not good enough."
Time is running out on their season and, maybe, on this group.
They'll always have their 2012 Cup triumph, the sweet memory of rising from the No. 8 seed to dominate every playoff series they won and bring indescribable joy to fans who had suffered through decades of disappointment. But with a young team and a stud goaltender in Quick, that seemed like only the beginning of an era.
Now it seems near an end, because the mix simply isn't right anymore.