What we learned from the Kings’ 4-2 loss to the Rangers
An aggressive forechecking team with a premier goalie and a penchant for dominating third periods?
The Kings could have been looking into a mirror when they saw the New York Rangers on Friday night. The Rangers are opportunistic, skilled and have the luxury of Henrik Lundqvist in goal.
And, as the hockey saying goes, their best players were their best players. This time, it was in the form of Rick Nash’s game-winning goal in a 4-2 Kings loss at Madison Square Garden.
Here’s what we learned:
It was a rough night for the Kings defensemen. Eastern Conference opponents are usually a tough task, if only because of the unfamiliarity. But the Kings especially had their hands full chasing Rangers forwards. Kurtis MacDermid had Nash skate around him on one play, then was induced into checking Ryan McDonagh to get out of position on the Rangers’ second goal.
Christian Folin coughed up the puck to Nash for the deciding goal.
“Their left side is big left wingers with lots of speed,” Kings coach John Stevens said of the Rangers. “They’ve got quality center men that are really responsible and they’ve got a lot of skill and playmakers on the right side … They have good speed but their team game is sound, and it prevailed tonight.”
The Kings’ penalty kill is leaking. The Rangers scored on a bit of a fortunate bounce on their power-play goal by Chris Kreider, but it stands as the fourth straight game the Kings’ No.1-ranked unit has allowed a goal. They gave up 10 goals in the first 29 games of the season.
It would probably help if the Kings did not take two offensive-zone penalties, one by Jussi Jokinen on Brendan Smith and another by Trevor Lewis on Kevin Shattenkirk.
No penalty kill is invincible but the standard has been set so high by the Kings that any mistakes are magnified in losses.
Nash is still elite. The veteran winger reminded West Coast fans why he remains one of the NHL’s skilled forwards. He had several chances, on top of his goal, looked dangerous all night and finished with five shots.
Nash also took a mental note on Jonathan Quick that paid off on his 425th career goal.
“I had kind of the same play in the first period and I tried to go high glove [side] and he kind of moved his chest right in front of it, so I thought I had to switch it up and try to go blocker [side],” Nash said.
Follow Curtis Zupke on Twitter @curtiszupke
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