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Hockey

What we learned from the Kings’ 4-1 loss to Ottawa

Three months ago, the Kings lost to the Ottawa Senators to begin a long downward spiral. It was the fifth game of the season and the Kings admitted that the effort and desire wasn’t there.

Not much changed Thursday.

The Kings again lacked the effort and desperation against Ottawa, this time in a 4-1 loss at home that carved out another new low at Game 45. They sit last in the Western Conference, by three points, and it was painfully evident for much of the night.

Here’s what we learned:

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Nate Thompson stood out in the wrong way. It’s almost always a bad sign when Thompson gets noticed. He’s a fourth-line checking center and his job is to keep the opposition muffled while winning faceoffs.

The veteran was beaten twice along the boards by Chris Tierney on Ottawa’s second goal in an alarming defensive lapse by the Kings. It was a mistake-prone shift by Thompson that summed up the Kings’ night.

“For a team that prides itself on defense, we didn’t do a very good job tonight,” forward Kyle Clifford said.

Ottawa Senators v Los Angeles Kings
Ottawa's Chris Tierney slides along the boards to avoid the Kings' Alec Martinez during a Jan. 10 game at Staples Center..
(Harry How / Getty Images)

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Alec Martinez came in hot. Martinez was noticeable in his first game since Dec.8. He forced an offensive-zone holding penalty on Zack Smith in the first period and picked off an Ottawa pass for a scoring chance in the high slot early in the second period.

Martinez put too much zip on his clearing attempt around the corner, and the missed pass allowed Ottawa’s Chris Wolanin to throw the puck on net and have it bounce off Jake Muzzin’s leg.

The Kings badly needed Martinez back in the lineup, but he and partner Muzzin were a combined minus-2.

Maybe it’s time to scratch Brendan Leipsic. The waiver-wire acquisition has trouble finishing and stands at one goal in 18 games with the Kings. Yet he remains a regular in the lineup.

The Kings’ second line, no matter the iteration, is a perpetual black hole. Jeff Carter hit the post twice and was a minus-3 on Thursday. If this season is now about developing future players, then it makes little sense to continue to play Leipsic over, say, Matt Luff.

curtis.zupke@latimes.com

Twitter: @curtiszupke


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