Can things possibly get worse?
Well, in a word: Yes.
The already defense-depleted Kings absorbed another body blow in Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Dallas Stars at Staples Center, losing defenseman Alec Martinez in the second period when he blocked a shot.
He went to the dressing room for treatment and did not return for the rest of the game. The injury occurred on his sixth shift of the second period, and the Kings did not specify the nature of his injury.
“Once the doctor gives us some more information then ... that’s all I can tell you,” Coach Darryl Sutter said.
The Kings were on the second night of back-to-back games, and the loss to Dallas was just their second in regulation in 10 games at home.
They didn’t start to generate much energy until late in the second period. By then, the Stars were already ahead. They got a first-period goal by forward Ryan Garbutt, who converted his own rebound to beat Kings goalie Martin Jones, and one at 8:13 of the second period from Jason Spezza, who had plenty of time and space.
“We chased the game. We chased it from the first period on,” Kings forward Justin Williams said. “In a back-to-back, that’s tough. It simply wasn’t good enough.”
It was the 28th career shutout for Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen and the second time he has pulled off the feat against the Kings. It was his first shutout of this season and he faced 27 shots, and his most spectacular save of the night came on Kings center Jarret Stoll late in the second period.
On this night, however, the injury to Martinez was the primary story line.
Even before this latest mishap involving another defenseman, the Kings were in a world of hurt on the back end. Because of a lower-body injury to defenseman Robyn Regehr and the indefinite suspension to Slava Voynov, they were forced to sign free agent Jamie McBain this week.
They had played short a defenseman — going with five instead of the usual six — but turned in a comprehensive effort in beating Vancouver on Saturday. The role of Martinez has increased and he is especially valuable because he has the ability to play both sides and can provide a nice boost of offense.
Of late, his minutes on the ice have often only been surpassed by Drew Doughty, who regularly hits the 30-minute range. The ice time of Martinez was 25:30 against the Canucks and he hit a season-high 26:03 in Anaheim on Wednesday.
The Kings lost to Anaheim in a wild 6-5 shootout, in which Sutter benched his leading scorer (Tyler Toffoli), third-leading scorer (Tanner Pearson) and Kyle Clifford for the entire third period. Pearson and Toffoli emerged from the doghouse on Thursday but didn’t produce much in terms of offense, combining for three shots on goal.
“I don’t think right now is the time to talk about individual games,” Toffoli said. “We have to figure out our game as a whole and get better as a group.”
Pearson, who was the league’s rookie of the month in October, has not scored since Oct. 26, producing one assist since then. Toffoli has had three points in the last six games, all coming in the victory against Vancouver.
“In the second and third, we were better,” Toffoli said of the overall effort. “But when you’re down by two goals, it’s not easy to keep coming back and winning games.”