Kings fall to Rangers, 4-3, in a flurry of second-period goals

Kings fall to Rangers, 4-3, in a flurry of second-period goals
Rangers left wing Chris Kreider watches his rebound shot along with Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin sail past goalie Jonathan Quick in the first period Thursday night. (Harry How / Getty Images)

They consistently downplayed the Stanley Cup rematch angle against the New York Rangers, and, yes, it was good that the Kings haven't been living in the past.

But living in the moment isn't working out so well.


The slumping Kings continued their pattern of baffling inconsistency, losing their grip and poise in the second period. The Rangers scored three second-period goals on their way to a 4-3 victory over the Kings on Thursday night at Staples Center.

“I'm not quite sure what to say,” said Kings right wing Justin Williams, who scored twice for his 10th and 11th of the season. “Four goals against yet again for a team that prides itself on defense is simply inexcusable.

"It's something we've tried to clean up and something we continue to do because we're not going to win many games giving up chances like we are."

The Kings' sense of urgency didn't surface until late in the game … again.

That has been another predictable pattern. They went into their quick-strike offense in the final 4:03, pulling within one when Williams scored his second of the game, getting the inside position and batting the puck out of mid-air past Rangers goalie Cam Talbot.

Following that, they swarmed and pushed but were unable to get the equalizer, the way they did with a late surge on Saturday against Nashville before going on to lose in overtime.

The Kings even had a six-on-four opportunity in the final 35.9 seconds, with Quick on the bench for an extra attacker and then the Rangers' Rick Nash went off for tripping Anze Kopitar.

It was the first regular-season meeting between the teams since the Kings beat the Rangers in five games in the Stanley Cup Final in June. Because of that, there were always going to be the comparisons and contrasts.

You could say the teams are trending in opposite directions. The Kings have won once in their last five games, going 1-2-2. That one victory, at Vancouver on Thursday, came via a third-period push, naturally.

The Rangers arrived in Los Angeles having won 11 of their last 12 games, including Wednesday night at Anaheim against the Ducks.

Make it 12 of the last 13.

"We seem to be in a funk," Williams said. "I think especially killing penalties. We're just not getting the clear, the things we're doing. It's not from a lack of trying."

The Kings have been hit often by poor starts, but that wasn't the case this time. They led 2-0, scoring twice in the opening 5:49 on goals by rookie forward Tanner Pearson (12th of the season) and Williams. For Pearson, it ended an 11-game goal scoring drought.

Williams, who beat Talbot with a shot from above the right circle, has scored three times in three games.

New York got a goal back on the power play, by Dan Boyle at 10:27 of the first, cutting the Kings' lead to 2-1, and took control in the second period. Quick gave up goals on shots by Kevin Klein and Lee Stempniak, who scored 19 seconds apart to make it, 3-2.

The Rangers scored another power-play goal after Kings defenseman Alec Martinez went off for hooking Carl Hagelin. There were 28 seconds remaining on the Martinez penalty when Martin St. Louis scored on a rebound to make it, 4-2.

"I don't think the start of the second period was nearly as good enough," Kopitar said. "They got the two-goal lead and we were chasing the game after that."

The special-teams edge went to the Rangers. The Kings were zero for four on the power play, and New York went two for four with the man advantage.

"Obviously not great. I don't think we generated enough on our power play, and they scored two power-play goals," Kopitar said. "We lost that battle."

The mood leading up to this one had more of a Game 41-type feel — which it was, for the Kings — not a rematch-type vibe.

Williams made it clear that there was no skating down memory lane.

"Clearly another game," he said. "Nothing else."