The Kings are stuck in a New York state of grinding their gears.
They got the start they wanted, only to give it up. They made a play on a penalty kill, only to have it turn into a goal.
They ultimately got one point in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New York Islanders at Barclays Center on Saturday, hard earned but stinging with frustration. Most of the final two periods were spent in their end, and they couldn’t pull out a win after Anze Kopitar’s dramatic goal with 13 seconds left in regulation.
Here’s what we learned:
The penalties are adding up. The Kings took five minor penalties that gave the Islanders more than eight minutes of power play time. That’s a lot of time chasing the puck, and Kings coach John Stevens said it taxed his main horses, Kopitar and Dustin Brown, not to mention limit Marian Gaborik to 10 minutes, 11 seconds of ice time.
It’s part of a trend that one could see coming. The Kings’ top-ranked penalty kill can only be asked to do so much, so perhaps it was a matter of time before it took on too much water. The Kings have allowed a power-play goal in five straight games.
More frustrating is that some of the penalties are in the offensive zone — two against the New York Rangers on Friday and one Saturday when Gaborik accidentally high-sticked Johnny Boychuk.
Oscar Fantenberg should shoot more. He first has to get into the lineup, and that happened Saturday because it was the second game of a back-to-back and Kurtis MacDermid turned in one of worst games of the season Friday and was scratched.
Fantenberg is known for his offensive tendencies and good shot, on display with his first-period goal, the second of his NHL career. It happened in front of his father and grandfather, who traveled from Sweden to watch him play.
Defensemen play has been a topic with the Kings, and Fantenberg could have earned another spot in the lineup.
“I thought he gave us good, solid play,” Stevens said. “That’s what we’re hoping for.”
Elite players are killing the Kings. On Friday night, it was Rick Nash. On Saturday, it was John Tavares. Both had clutch goals that world-class players are known for.
It’s probably more a reflection of their talent than the Kings’ inability to stop them. The Kings have high-end players, of course, and they did their part to tie up the game late. Kopitar scored after Drew Doughty made a keep-in play to maintain the possession.
Now if they could get some help from their teammates, it would go a long way.