The Kings have practiced almost every morning since early October.
So Coach Darryl Sutter was asked before Thursday night’s game against the Boston Bruins what he could still be teaching the players six months later.
“Just reinforcing small details from prior games,” he said. “Or if you see a history of reoccurring things. A lot of it now is reinforcement.”
One thing that hasn’t been reoccurring for the Kings is victories, a 4-1 loss to the Bruins at Staples Center leaving them with only two wins in their last eight games.
They last won consecutive games three weeks ago, and with the latest loss they dropped four points behind the Calgary Flames in the battle for the Western Conference’s final wild-card playoff spot with 22 games to play.
“We’re confident,” Jeff Carter said. “But we’ve got to win.”
That’s hard to do when you score only one goal.
Boston answered with scores from Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Dominic Moore and David Krejci, the last two empty-netters in the final 65 seconds.
Boston opened the scoring less four minutes after the opening faceoff when the Kings’ Jake Muzzin lost the puck along the boards well inside the blue line.
Marchand gathered it in and quickly broke the other way, covering more than half the ice before burying a wrister from the right faceoff circle for his 26th goal.
“Early goal, just a constant theme,” Sutter said. “[You] need some production out of the top end of your lineup to overcome that.
“It’s very difficult to chase the lead.”
The Kings matched Marchard’s goal in the final two minutes of the first period. Adrian Kempe set up the power-play goal, collecting the rebound of a long Alec Martinez slap shot and slipping it between the legs of Boston defender Kevan Miller to Kevin Gravel, who redirected the puck into the net from the edge of the right circle for his first NHL goal.
But Pastrnak broke the tie with a power-play goal less than five minutes into the second period.
The Boston forward broke his stick on a one-timer from the top of the left circle but the puck knuckled past Kings goalie Peter Budaj for this 26th goal — and only the second the Kings have given up on the power play in their last 37 chances.
The Kings, pushing for overtime, then pulled Budaj for an extra attacker in the final 90 seconds but that move backfired when the Bruins scored twice into the empty net — the two goals matching or surpassing the Kings’ output in seven of their last nine games.
“We didn’t have it tonight,” Carter lamented. “You’ve got to score goals to win. There were games … where we weren’t good enough to win.
“And games where we were good enough but we didn’t score enough goals.”
Thursday they weren’t good enough despite facing backup goalie Anton Khudobin, who was playing his 10th game of the season for the Bruins but only his second since Christmas.
But he looked like Patrick Roy against the Kings, repeatedly frustrating them while stopping 27 shots on goal.