If you’re looking for an omen regarding where the Kings’ season may be headed, consider this: The team played twice in a 23-hour span, let one-goal leads slip away five times and lost both games in overtime, the latest coming Tuesday in a 2-1 loss to the Calgary Flames
Yet they came away with two points, pulling to within one of St. Louis in the race for the Western Conference’s final wild-card berth. And now they come home for a season-long 14-day, seven-game homestand.
“A little bit of puck luck,” Coach Darryl Sutter said.
Sutter could just as easily have credited newly acquired goaltender Ben Bishop for Tuesday’s point. Obtained Sunday from Tampa Bay, Bishop made his Kings debut against Calgary and he was as good as advertised, making 30 saves — many on tough chances.
He had little chance on the two goals he allowed, the first set up by a Kings’ giveaway deep in their end and TJ Brodie’s overtime winner coming on a breakaway.
“Obviously, we wanted two points,” Bishop said. “But we’ll take one.”
He probably will alternate in goal with Jonathan Quick the rest of the way. But though the Kings have plenty of cap space — more than $3.2 million, according to CapFriendly.com — they appear unlikely to make another significant move before the NHL trade period expires at noon Pacific time Wednesday.
Instead Dean Lombardi, the Kings president and general manager, talked of bringing up “a couple of kids from the minors that we’ve got to start breaking in.”
That philosophy worked in the past. In 2012, the Kings summoned Jordan Nolan and Dwight King late in the season and won a Stanley Cup. Two years later they promoted Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson and won again.
That’s probably good news for wingers Jonny Brodzinski and Michael Mersch, who have combined for 31 goals and 29 assists for the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Ontario. Both could join the Kings after the trade deadline, when NHL rosters expand beyond the 23-man limit.
As for what happened on the ice Tuesday, some of that wasn’t exactly clear either. The officials, for example, needed two long video reviews, totaling more than five minutes, to declare Tanner Pearson’s first-period goal good.
With the Kings on the power play, Pearson collected a pass from Anze Kopitar at the right post and chopped at it three times before it finally trickled over the goal line. The officials went to the video to confirm that and when they did, Calgary challenged the play, claiming interference.
That argument was rejected and the Kings had a first-period lead for the second time in as many nights.
But just like the previous night, the Kings couldn’t hold it, with a turnover deep in their own zone setting up Michael Ferland for a one-timer that beat Bishop over his left shoulder midway through the second period.
The game ended up in overtime, where the Kings have the league’s best record under the three-on-three format. Yet, for the second straight night they gave up the winning goal on the first shot of the extra period, with Brodie getting behind two Kings defensemen, taking a long pass from Mikael Backlund at the blue line and beating Bishop with a high backhand at the right post.
That shot narrowed the playoff race in more ways than one, with the win giving Calgary a commanding five-point lead over St. Louis in the race for the No. 1 wild-card berth, while the Kings cut the Blues’ lead over them for the second spot to its narrowest in three weeks.
“We went on the road and played two back to back, we got points,” Sutter said. “Now we have to home and try to take care of business there.”