It was shootout karma.
Or something like that.
You can guess what happened a day after Kings Coach Darryl Sutter ripped shootouts after practice here, saying, “I don’t have the time of day for them.”
The Kings were forced to have the time of day with the shootout Sunday but didn’t have any success against Toronto goalie James Reimer. Reimer stopped Marian Gaborik, Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar of the Kings, and the Maple Leafs’ Joffrey Lupul scored against Kings goalie Jonathan Quick to give Toronto a 4-3 victory at Air Canada Center.
This particular shootout certainly won’t be remembered for its artistic merit. Lupul was the only one of six shooters to convert.
Considering the Kings trailed 2-0 after the first period, picking up one point could be considered a small measure of improvement after regulation losses in three of their last four games. Toronto is 9-1-1 since Nov. 18, having won its last five games.
“We battled back,” Sutter said. “It’s tough to get points, especially in this building.”
There’s a fine line between talking about positive signs and being mindful of the bottom line of wins and losses.
“You’ve got to be careful when you lose, that you don’t say that’s OK,” Sutter said. “You’ve got to find ways. You soldier on and get ready for the next one, that’s what you’ve got to do.”
Scoring for the Kings were Justin Williams (eighth of the season), Dwight King (third) and Gaborik (fifth). Williams had the primary assist on Gaborik’s goal, which made it 3-2 at 1:02 of the third period. He has been one of the more consistent Kings forwards in terms of scoring, and this was his second multiple-point performance of the season.
King scored his first goal since Nov. 6, and for Gaborik, it was his first goal since he returned to action after his latest go-round with an upper-body injury.
“It’s been awhile,” King said. “I just tried to take it to the net, wasn’t too much time left in the period. A little fortunate with the bounce off the goalie. But I’ll take it.”
Toronto tied it 3-3 when it scored a quick goal on the power play at 8:49, a mere eight seconds after going on the man advantage when Trevor Lewis went off for high-sticking David Booth. The Kings gave up a quick power-play goal in Montreal, too, shortly after a faceoff.
“We played as well as we can,” Sutter said. “We’re a different team than we were last year. We need great goaltending, and we need guys to score big goals. Usually that comes out of your top guys. The best thing taken out of tonight is that Gabby scores.
“We’re 30-some games into the year, and he’s finding his way.”
Kopitar and Jeff Carter have had their scoring woes, of late.
“Jeff plays the same way every night,” Sutter said. “He’s a guy that — in the scoring part — has run hot and cold his whole career, it’s not right now. That’s how he’s been. He’ll come out of it as long as he continues to do all the little things, stay on top of it and work the way he works.”
On Saturday, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty talked about the need for urgency. They have shown the knack for flipping the switch at the necessary time.
“When we’re playing desperately, our team is very good,” Doughty said. “And when we are kind of just going through the motions, playing games that way, we’re not very good. We need to start playing desperate because we’re losing points and slowly getting out of a playoff spot.”
Doughty said that the first period on Sunday served as a distinct wake-up call.
“We came in after the first period and we were down 2-0, and I think we all were frustrated, no doubt about it,” he said. “We knew we weren’t playing the way we’re supposed to be playing.”