The Kings ended a seven-game homestand — matching their longest one of the season — with a 3-4 record after Wednesday’s loss to the San Jose Sharks. And that places added emphasis on a four-game East Coast road trip that begins Saturday.
With that as the starter, here are three things with learned from Wednesday’s 3-2 loss:
There’s no place… like the road?
The road has not been kind to the Kings this season, who have won just eight times in 22 tries away from home. But if they’re going to struggle in front of sold-out crowds at Staples Center, they have no choice but to make that up on the road.
“Going on the road here, you want to leave on a good note,” defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “We’re not leaving on a good note, so we’ve got to find some … I don’t know. We’ve got to find a little jam inside each other to get going here.”
Fortunately for the Kings, the trip starts against the New York Islanders, who have the worst record in the Eastern Conference. But Muzzin said it’s not so much where or who the Kings play as much as how they’ve played that is causing problems.
“If we come out better, we can dictate the play of the game early and we didn’t do that,” he said. “We had opportunities. They had opportunities they capitalized, we didn’t. Our attitude and our fight inside has to improve.”
Leave Peter Budaj on the ice
Including Wednesday, Kings Coach Darryl Sutter has pulled his goalie 17 times this season and his team hasn’t scored in any of those games. But they have allowed eight empty-net goals, meaning they’ve been outscored 8-0 with the man advantage while pushing for a tying score.
“We need the big guys to score and not counting Jeff [Carter], there’s not a whole lot of that,” Sutter said. “You need those top guys to make a difference. You’re going to be in one-goal games — lots of them. I bet I’ve already pulled the goalie more times than I have, ever. So that means you’re one goal down, you need your top guys to make a difference there.”
Sutter was also unhappy with the Kings’ play on a second-period penalty kill when they gave up a soft goal to Joe Pavelski nine seconds after Carter went to the box for high sticking.
“A weak goal,” he said. “Faceoff loss. [We haven’t] given up a goal from that side of the ice since Christmas — down low, to the left of our goalie [in the] corner. Disappointing.”
Shooting star goes dark
Captain Anze Kopitar, who missed Monday’s matinee loss to Tampa Bay because he was ill, slogged through 23 shifts and nearly 18 minutes of ice time Wednesday yet failed to get a shot on goal. That marked the eighth time this season — and third in six games — Kopitar failed to get a shot on goal. The rest of the team didn’t do much better, combining for just 24 shots — only five in the decisive third period.
“Some chances could have gone in but that’s the way this league works,” said Tanner Pearson, whose first-period score briefly evened the score in a game the Kings never led. “If you’re chasing the game… you’ve got to come out on time and ready to go and try to get that first one and not battle back the whole game.”
Staff writer Helene Elliott contributed to this report.