Another familiar script unfolded for the Kings.
They hit all the plot points: Great goaltending but no offense to back it up, coupled with terrible penalty killing.
Yet on Friday, they added a new twist: No chance of offense.
The Kings took 14 shots against the Calgary Flames to further lessen their opportunity of rewarding goalie Cal Petersen for another superb performance. After the second game in as many nights, without Ilya Kovalchuk, they packed their bags with a 4-1 loss at Scotiabank Saddledome following their ninth game scoring one or zero goals.
This one went down under Petersen’s 33 saves.
“We need to help him out,” Alex Iafallo said. “He had an amazing game. He had some key saves, and we have to give back to him. We couldn’t do for him, but he had a hell of game for us.”
Kovalchuk watched it from the press box because of an ankle injury that interim coach Willie Desjardins said postgame was an “infection” not related to Thursday’s game. The team has listed him as day-to-day, but Desjardins was murkier.
“It’s something that flared up, and it’s hard to say how long that will take,” Desjardins said.
The Kings ended up doing a lot of watching, too, specifically the wonderful display of Johnny Gaudreau as Gaudreau exploited their heavy legs. The Flames star struck three goal posts before his backhand into an open net on the power play produced the game-winning goal nearly eight minutes into the third period.
“He’s obviously all-world,” Petersen said. “I played the world championships with him, so I got to see a little taste of that in practice. He’s obviously a fantastic player. He’s somebody to be aware of.”
Petersen couldn’t help but be impressed on a Gaudreau wraparound attempt that struck the far post.
“He was shimmy-shaking back there a little bit,” Petersen said. “It was hard to keep track of. You see something like that and hopefully you kind of holster it for the next time he tries it.”
Petersen stopped 28 straight shots following a rare poor goal allowed on the first shot of the game, to Mikael Backlund on a clean look from the left side. He was caught out on the right side on Gaudreau’s goal, which was more a reflection of the Kings’ 29th-ranked penalty-killing unit that has allowed 21 goals in 26 games.
Desjardins said it’s not just that they’re missing Trevor Lewis on that unit.
“It just seems that right now, whatever we do, it doesn’t seem to work,” Desjardins said. “We get caught halfway here, halfway there. We’ll have to address it when we go home.”
Adrian Kempe provided their score in the second because of a puck won by Austin Wagner behind the goal line to set up Kempe’s third goal. The Kings took seven shots the rest of the way. The line of Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm combined for as many shots (14) as the Kings.
The loss soured a homecoming for Calgary products Wagner and Sheldon Rempal. Desjardins makes a home in nearby Medicine Hat. Dion Phaneuf, who began his career with Calgary, was recognized for his 1,000th game.
Whatever good feelings that brought were vacuumed out in a quiet Kings dressing room.
“They’re really disappointed after a loss, and they’re on edge and not happy about our [game] and that’s how it should be … but in saying that it’s a challenge,” Desjardins said. “It’s a challenge every night. This is a good team, and we knew that. We were going to have to have our best effort to win.”