During the weekend conference call in which he announced the acquisition of goalie Ben Bishop, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi had a message for his punchless forwards:
You’re on your own.
“Everybody’s like, ‘Why don’t you get some offense?’ I just don’t see the answer,” he said. “It has to come from within.”
Consider the message received. Nick Shore and Jake Muzzin both scored Monday for the first time this month while Marian Gaborik got his first goal since Feb. 1.
Now if the team could only do something about the goaltending. Because while the Kings scored four goals Monday, Jonathan Quick let in one more in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild.
Mikael Granlund scored the game-winner 12 seconds after the overtime faceoff, gathering the puck in the Wild end, weaving through traffic and easily beating Quick. It was the fastest overtime goal in franchise history.
Tanner Pearson had the Kings’ other goal while Minnesota got scores from Nino Niederreiter, Jordan Schroeder, Ryan White and Jason Zucker. Each goal erased a deficit, costing the Kings a valuable point in the standings.
“We need all the points we can get right now,” Shore said. “You’ve got to come into these games and get two.”
The Kings trail St. Louis by two points and Calgary by five in the race for the Western Conference’s two wild-card spots. So while the Kings have scored eight times in their last two games, those points aren’t as important as the ones in the standings.
Shore’s first goal in more than six weeks gave the Kings an early first-period lead – the first time they’ve had one of those in seven games.
But Niederreiter tied the score for Minnesota five minutes later, establishing a pattern the teams followed for the rest of the night. Pearson’s goal on a shot that deflected off the stick of defenseman Jonas Brodin had the Kings in front, 2-1, at the intermission — just the second time this month the Kings scored two first-period goals.
But the second period ended even after Minnesota got goals from Schroeder and White, sandwiched around Muzzin’s first score in 12 games.
So when Gaborik put the Kings back in front less than two minutes into the final period, it was a lead that seemed unlikely to last — and it didn’t, with Zucker’s scoring to send the game to overtime.
Granlund, playing in his 300th NHL game, then ended it with his 20th goal of the season.
That shot was the 35th faced by Quick, who was playing in just his second game since returning from a groin injury suffered in the first period of the season. That’s the most shots he seen since last April, and the five goals were the most he’s failed to stop since December of 2015.
“It was a tough turnaround for him after an emotional first game,” Sutter said of his goalie, who beat the Ducks in his return last Saturday.
“I give our team credit for getting a point.”
But they left another important one on the ice.
KINGS AT CALGARY FLAMES
When: Tuesday, 6 p.m. (PST).
On the air: TV: FSW; Radio: 790.
Update: With 20 games left in the season it’s hard to say any of them are “must win” games. But that’s what Muzzin called this one after Monday’s loss. The Kings have a lot of ground to make up on Calgary but they also have four games left with the Flames. Tuesday’s matchup offers a unique opportunity since Calgary’s 14 home losses are second-most in the conference. Working against the Kings? The team will have fewer than 22 hours between Monday’s game in St. Paul and Tuesday’s game in Calgary, and part of that time was spent flying the 1,000 miles between the two cities.