About nine minutes separated the Kings from a much-deserved four-day break.
Instead, they’ll have a lot of time to recuperate and remind themselves of how they threw two points out the window Saturday. A 5-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks was served up by a late meltdown in which the Kings took four minor penalties and surrendered four goals in the third period after they led 3-1.
Here’s what we learned:
Drew Doughty needs to rein it in. Doughty’s emotion is great for the game. He’s a viral video waiting to happen. He exudes joy and frustration with equal demonstrativeness that shows how much he cares about the game.
But Saturday was clearly a time when that passion costs his team. His unsportsmanlike conduct penalty set in motion Chicago’s rally. Though it wasn’t the only reason for the loss, he’s taken several of those penalties this year and it’s part of a bigger pattern that needs to be corrected.
The schedule caught up to the Kings. Coach John Stevens noted it afterward. The Kings have played 16 games in 31 days and at some point the mental, if not physical fatigue was going to catch up to them. It was easy to conclude that they thought they could win on the strength of their first two periods and just get to their upcoming break. Penalties, whether legitimate or not, are often a sign of a team just trying to get through a game or taxed too much to avoid them. Saturday appeared to be the case.
The Jeff Carter line is picking up steam. One of the positives for the Kings is that Carter, Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli looked active. Toffoli set up Carter twice for shots from the left side, and Pearson perked the Kings up with their first goal.
Carter was on a three-game goal scoring streak, all the more impressive considering he is still getting his legs back after a 55-game absence. His return gives the Kings the top-six forward unit they thought they would have all along, and that unit produced or had a hand in all three Kings goals.