Monday night in the Olympic Saddledome was a night when the King special teams were not so special, when the Calgary Flames sent two King defensemen to the hospital and when the Kings played well but did not win.
On the bright side, the Kings do get to come home.
Little solace they have found there, however. After their 4-2 loss to Smythe Division rival Calgary (5-7) before 16,798 fans, the Kings hope to regroup in the familiar confines of the Forum. Some Kings will regroup, others will rehabilitate injured bodies, thanks to the rough Calgary defense.
Victims Monday were defensemen Craig Redmond, who suffered an injury to his right knee, and Steve Duchesne, who injured his back. Both players were taken to a Calgary hospital, with Duchesne receiving X-rays for a suspected rib injury.
Also taken out of the game, but not appearing on a score sheet, were the King special teams. Absent was the penalty-killing unit that was fourth in the NHL. After allowing only nine power play goals this season, the Flames scored on all three of their power play chances. And the Flames are ranked only 15th in power plays.
"I guess we woke up their power play," King Coach Pat Quinn said.
Meanwhile, the Flames put the King power play unit to sleep. The Kings were 1 of 6 with a man advantage, obviously finding 6-foot 4-inch Joel Otto too big to get around.
Otto scored big, too. He had a hat trick, the first of his NHL career.
The Kings had hoped to win and overtake Calgary for third in the division. At 3-9-1, the Kings have to be thankful they have Vancouver around to beat.
Thus, the Kings are limping home with six losses and one tie to show for a seven-game trip. With the injuries to Redmond and Duchesne, the Kings are at four injuries and holding.
Quinn, a man of great patience, is getting a little out of sorts after three weeks of close games.
"It's pretty frustrating," Quinn said. "The power play killed us. They just executed well on it. They may execute as well as anyone in the league.
"I'm at a point where we want some wins. I can't fault our team. Our guys have been playing well. We have been playing well enough to win, but we haven't won."
The Kings had their chances, especially in the waning minutes of the third period. After being outshot, 20-8, in the second period, the Kings outshot the Flames in the third, 13-8.
At one point, in the midst of a jam of bodies in front of the Flame net, the red light flashed to signify a King goal. That goal would have tied the game at 3-3. But the officials lost sight of the puck and ruled the whistle had blown before the goal was scored.
"I thought it was a goal," Quinn said.
Trailing 3-2, the Kings pulled goaltender Darren Eliot at 18:25. That allowed the Flames to score an empty net goal with 30 seconds left. It was the only goal in the third period.
The Flames scored on their first power play chance in the first period. Jay Wells was checking Hakan Loob while Loob passed to Otto in front of the net. Otto scored with one second left in the power play.
Calgary killed the first King power play by doing what the King penalty killing unit used to do--forechecking.
Otto was doing most of it. "He's a big fella and tough to move," Quinn said.
Bernie Nicholls scored for the Kings at 17:13 to tie it. Larry Playfair had taken a slap shot from the blue line and Nicholls' intercepted it and pushed the puck in from the left side.
The second period featured the sort of wild play that was a hallmark of the Kings in the past and surfaced Sunday night at Edmonton.
After the Flames scored at 4:01 to give them a 2-1 lead, a fight broke out in front of the King goal. Every player on the ice got in on it, with the lone exception of Calgary goaltender Mike Vernon at the other end of the ice. Seven players were penalized as a result of the fracas, which was indicative of the ragged play during the period.
Otto scored again for the Flames, and Wells scored for the Kings to give Calgary a 3-2 lead at the end of the period.