Usually when a team twice erases deficits and salvages a point in a tough building, there is some relief. For the Kings, it was the opposite.
The same problems that have afflicted them most of the season — sloppy play, inconsistency — bit them again early Tuesday night and left them with a 3-2 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild.
What made it inexcusable was they knew Minnesota was motivated following losses to the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers, the latter on Monday night in Philadelphia.
Yet it was the Kings who looked tired.
Here’s what we learned:
Is Jonathan Quick really a trade piece? His recent run of games are a reminder that when Quick is on his game, he’s up there with the elite. It’s also raises the question of how the franchise will really transition from him when the time comes.
The Kings are believed to be taking a hard look at moving some of their core pieces, and that would include Quick. But then there are games like this when it’s fair to wonder who would adequately take his place.
“I’ve seen him play like that so many times, and I thought it’s going to be difficult to beat him tonight,” Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said. “When Eric [Staal] gets a goal the hard way off his legs, that’s how you’re going to beat him.”
Ilya Kovalchuk is looking more like a top-line left wing. He’s been with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown for five games and looked as involved and noticeable as he has with the Kings now that he’s getting the requisite ice time.
Kovalchuk ended a 10-game scoring slump by crashing the net Tuesday. He has eight goals in 37 games, which would place him in the 20-goal range for a full season (Kovalchuk missed a month with an ankle infection).
Before the game, Kovalchuk said his line can be better and that he needed to earn playing time, and he noted the boost he gets when he does see more ice.
“When you play more, you’re feeling better, you’re more in the game, you’re creating more for your partners and for yourself,” Kovalchuk said.
The ice wasn’t bad. Minnesota’s Jared Spurgeon did a pratfall on an overtime power play. A couple of other players also appeared to hit a rut at times on the Xcel Energy Center ice.
But the players said it was fine.
“It’s always good here,” Jeff Carter said. “It’s cold here.”
Brown didn’t have bad ice as an excuse for his shootout try.
“I just mishandled the puck,” he said. “[Goalie Alex] Stalock kind of surprised me the way he played it. I kind of changed my mind at the last minute. It wasn’t a very good move.”