A few days ago, the Kings’ brass took the unusual step of addressing the state of the team through an in-house video.
General manager Rob Blake and team President Luc Robitaille pointed out how they intend to build up the organization’s depth and have its young players challenge its older players. Robitaille said that in order to get to the next level “it’s going to take some patience.”
That applied to Tuesday’s game. It took a heaping of patience for the Kings to break through against goalie Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens, and it wilted into a 3-1 loss at Staples Center.
Matt Luff provided a home-made rookie moment with the only goal, but the Kings didn’t make it hard enough on Price and a Montreal team intent on securing a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“They were good to-night,” coach Willie Desjardins said of Montreal. “I thought they had lots of speed. That’s a fast team. They attacked. They jumped on us.”
The Kings got better late, but Price had to make only 13 saves in the first two periods. His 314th win tied him with Jacques Plante for most wins in Canadiens history.
Luff is from Oakville, Canada, near Toronto, but his parents are from the Montreal area and he sometimes saw Price play when he would go to games between the Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It’s pretty cool,” Luff said. “He’s probably [going to be a] Hall of Famer. To get one past him is pretty cool. I’ll be able to tell my buddies back home. But it would be huge to get the two points tonight. It’s a win-lose on that one.”
Luff could put his goal on his highlight reel regardless of the goaltender. With time and space in the high slot, he made a perfect wrist shot to the top left corner about than 11 minutes into the third period. His parents were probably cheering back home.
“I’ll check my phone tomorrow and I’ll have a text,” Luff said.
The rest of the game was almost polar opposite to the Oct. 11 matchup in which the Kings were so buoyed by a 3-0 win at Montreal, behind Jack Campbell’s first career shutout, that they held a fun outdoor football workout the next day in Ottawa.
Aside from Luff’s goal, another positive aspect for the Kings was getting Alec Martinez back into the lineup to strengthen their defense, only to have another part break down because of a terrible turnover.
Dion Phaneuf skated through a narrow path in front of his net and he gave the puck away to Jordan Weal, a former Kings prospect whose goal just past the 10-minute mark represented Montreal’s first shot of the second period.
“It was a tough one,” Desjardins said. “It’s hard. You’re trying to make something out of it. I thought [we] had a little bit more time there, and we didn’t.”
Shea Weber made it 3-0 just 41 seconds into the third period with a one-timer that went in off Jonathan Quick’s glove. His counterpart Price looked fine a day after he missed practice with reported flu symptoms.
Price stopped Jeff Carter on a partial break-in and got his left leg on Alex Iafallo’s point-blank attempt late in the second period.
The Kings put 27 shots on Price, with 14 in the third period.
“You’ve got to get more shots than we did,” Martinez said.
The Kings, who lost for the 11th time in 12 games and remained in last place in the Western Conference, had stemmed their bad starts the previous two games but they gave up the game’s first goal for the 43rd time in 66 games.