This was a winnable game for the Kings, but they’ve defined their season with one epic loss after another.
Against a team that played the previous night, the Kings couldn’t win the third period Saturday. They gave up the game-winning goal on an unacceptable turnover and rallied short despite an improved power play.
The Vancouver Canucks walked out of Staples Center with a 4-2 win to end an eight-game losing streak, yet another dagger in this epically bad Kings season.
Here’s what we learned:
Ilya Kovalchuk has disappeared. Signed to a three-year, $18.75-million contract, Kovalchuk has gone from top-line left wing and first power-play unit to third-line wing and second power-play unit. He played 13 minutes, 23 seconds and put one shot on goal.
In a Bizarro-like turn of events, the Kings crawled out of their 0-for-16 power play slump with Kovalchuk on the bench. Kovalchuk does not have a point in eight games, the longest such streak of his career.
Youth is not wasted on the young. Cal Petersen and Matt Luff have done their part. Luff is on a three-game scoring streak, and Petersen’s 25 saves continued to show he belongs at this level. Coach Willie Desjardins said Petersen will likely go again Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers.
“For him, it gives him a chance to prove he can play back-to-back,” Desjardins said. “… Cal played good again today. I think that’s good for us, when our young guys are playing well.”
Petersen can handle this. Losing cultures tend to have detrimental effects on young players, but Petersen’s maturity is impressive and he appears to have the right head on his shoulders. Part of that has to do with a similar experience with the Ontario Reign. He doesn’t let losses impact him outwardly.
“I definitely felt good and even coming from the other game … I didn’t feel like I felt bad or anything,” Petersen said. “I think we just fell on the wrong side of a couple plays. I thought we put forward a really strong effort. I think the pucks just didn’t bounce our way, and they took advantage of the opportunities that they got. But sooner or later, those chips are going to fall on our side.”