Kings’ trip drags to ugly, and costly, finish with 4-1 loss in Chicago
If the Central Time Zone pushed around and roughed up the Kings over the weekend, well, then Monday night was far worse.
To review: They lost to the Blackhawks, 4-1, at United Center. They lost ground in the Western Conference playoff race. And they lost one of their better puck-moving defensemen, Andrej Sekera, in the third period, and could only hope they don’t lose him for a longer period than that.
So just how did “Chelsea Dagger” sound?
The Kings had to listen to the Blackhawks anthem — the Fratellis song played after every Chicago goal at United Center — four times, including twice in an error-riddled 64-second span in the second period when a power-play goal by defenseman Duncan Keith and an unassisted effort by Niklas Hjalmarsson expanded the lead to 3-1.
Those goals came on consecutive shots, and it could have been a more lopsided final result if not for the athletic exploits of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who faced 40 shots.
And the night was full of daggers elsewhere, too
It started with Vancouver winning, 4-1, in St. Louis, extending the second-place Canucks’ lead to five points over the fourth-place Kings in the Pacific Division. Scoreboard watching didn’t get much better as the night went on as the third-place Calgary Flames were winning at Dallas at the same time the Kings were losing in Chicago.
The Calgary game ended a few minutes after the Kings lost. The Flames now lead the Kings by three points. Winnipeg holds the final wild-card spot and is two points ahead of the Kings, who finished 3-2 on their challenging trip, losing the last two games.
“We need points and we didn’t get any tonight. At the end of the day we go home,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said. “First thing we have to do is take care of business at home. It’s not where we want to be [in the standings], but we can’t sit here and feel bad for ourselves.
“We have to go out and play. We still have a chance, so that’s what I think guys in this room have been really good at — realizing that the opportunity is there.”
If Sekera is out for any significant period of time, that would be another blow to the Kings defense. Sekera, who was acquired from Carolina shortly before the trade deadline, was injured late in the second period and did not return.
Sekera was moving a bit carefully in the hallway and said one of the Blackhawks fell on his leg.
“Something doesn’t feel right,” he said. “I will know more about it and I will see the doctor tomorrow. I felt something went wrong and that was the night for me.”
Sekera has been a major asset since joining the Kings in late February. He has one goal and three assists and has not had a minus game since March 1 at Winnipeg, bringing a measure of stability to the defense corps.
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter wasn’t pleased by a questionable hooking penalty called on Sekera just 39 seconds into the second period, leading to the Keith goal at 1:39 that made it 2-1.
“I didn’t like the call,” Sutter said. “Duncan scores a power-play goal and the third goal, [Kyle] Clifford loses coverage on Hjalmarsson. That’s the difference.
The Kings’ fourth line struggled all night as Clifford, Mike Richards and Jordan Nolan were all a minus-two. Defensemen Matt Greene and Alec Martinez were each a minus-three. The Kings’ lone goal was by defenseman Jake Muzzin, who tied it, 1-1, with 32 seconds left in the first period on a shot from the left wing.
Brown noted that the Blackhawks caused many of the Kings’ turnovers.
“We had a lot of them tonight,” he said. “Everyone.”
Go beyond the scoreboard
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