The Kings succumbed to Smashville. But it wasn’t for a lack of resistance.
They started well against the Nashville Predators in the form of a boring road period, backed by another solid performance from rookie Cal Petersen. Then they gave the Predators’ ailing power play plenty of practice, and it ended up biting them in a 5-3 loss at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday.
Here’s what we learned:
The defensemen took a step back. Five penalties by their defensemen is too much to ask of a penalty killing unit and Petersen. Four of those were holding, tripping and hooking infractions, which is often a sign of a team that has trouble keeping up with the opposition.
Derek Forbort committed two penalties in one of his more forgettable games. Dion Phaneuf’s penalty was for roughing in a dust up with Ryan Hartman in Phaneuf’s 1,000th game, but that was forgivable on a night like this.
Two points were there for the taking. For just the sixth time this season, the Kings took a lead into the third period. They were 5-0-0 in that scenario until Forbort’s hooking penalty swayed the game to Nashville.
The Kings were once one of the best closing teams in the NHL, but that’s a work-in-progress in 2018.
“We were trying,” Drew Doughty said. “We know what they’re doing. They’re just stepping up on us at the blue line every time. All we had to do was get pucks in behind them and get to work that way, and we weren’t able to do it.”
Willie Desjardins likes his grinders. Before the game, Desjardins noted that the line of Kyle Clifford, Nate Thompson and Trevor Lewis was a great line, and he rewarded Thompson with a role on the second power-play unit.
Thompson, who has not scored a power-play goal in his 10-year career, nearly got one, but it was scored five seconds after a penalty expired. His one minute, 54 seconds of man-advantage time was more than that of Tyler Toffoli (1:42).
While it’s good for Thompson, it speaks to the state of the Kings that they’re relying on fourth-liners to spark the offense.
“If we get that throughout the lineup, then we’ll have success,” Desjardins said. “Right now, we rewarded Thompson because he’s doing it, and we’ll have to get it from a few more guys.”