The ingredients were there for the Kings to clean up with a victory at home.
They rolled out their fullest lineup in weeks, against a fellow last-place team that was missing key personnel. And they were looking to build off a tightly played divisional game from earlier in the week.
Yet those ingredients went wasted in a 4-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators at Staples Center. In a contest between teams with a combined minus-66 goal differential going into Thursday, the Kings came up negative again. They suffered defensive breakdowns in the second period in getting swept by a combined 9-2 score in the season series against Ottawa, without second-leading scorer Matt Duchene.
“That’s awful,” Kings forward Kyle Clifford said. “That’s just embarrassing, to be honest. Not much more to say other than that.”
The Kings didn’t really make a formidable challenge in the third. Ottawa got 33 saves from goalie Anders Nilsson and, in a disconcerting reprise of the October meeting, simply had more desire.
“It starts from in here in the dressing room,” defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “We need guys with more energy.... It was kind of dead in here and our play showed.”
With Alec Martinez back in the lineup, it left the once injury-ravaged Kings with only Trevor Lewis and Jonny Brodzinski unavailable. Coach Willie Desjardins said in the morning that, with a more representative lineup, “this next stretch is kind of a key stretch for us. We have to do well.”
They didn’t follow suit in an egregious second period that put them in a 2-1 deficit. Bobby Ryan grabbed his own rebound and scored at 14:59 on a power play gained from Nate Thompson’s tripping penalty on Chris Tierney.
Thompson was beaten by Tierney along the boards twice on Ottawa’s second goal, a shot that banked in off Jonathan Quick’s right arm at 16:40. That ended nearly 95 consecutive shutout minutes for Quick.
From there, Clifford echoed Muzzin’s assessment.
“Lack of emotion,” Clifford said. “Everybody on the bench is to blame tonight.”
Martinez’s clear along the corner that led to Ottawa’s third goal. The Kings couldn’t corral it and Christian Wolanin’s soft wrist shot deflected in off Muzzin’s leg for a 3-1 lead.
Clifford scored his career-high tying seventh goal on a clever deflection that banked high into the net off Muzzin’s wrist shot from the left corner almost four minutes into the second period.
That was all the offense.
“I think we kind of let up after we scored our first goal and let them into the game,” Muzzin said. “We couldn’t back into it.”
Vilardi shut down
Gabriel Vilardi has reportedly been shut down for the rest of the season to rest his injured back. General manager Rob Blake said in a text message late Thursday only that there remains no timetable for Vilardi, their 11th pick from 2017 whose career is on hold because of chronic back problems.
It was reported by the Kingston Whig-Standard.
Vilardi attempted to come back last month on a conditioning assignment and then in camp for the World Junior Championships but was returned to his junior team, the Kingston Frontenacs. He has not played for the Kings.