The Kings will have a lot to think about on their league-mandated bye week, which comes on the heels of an exhausting stretch that saw them play 10 games in seven states and the District of Columbia in 19 days. Here are three takeaways from Thursday’s 6-3 win over the Florida Panthers, the sixth in that 10-game stretch:
The only constant is inconsistency
Coach Darryl Sutter insists that he doesn’t see it, but his team has been more up and down than a knuckleball on a windy day. Just in their last five games, the Kings had back-to-back shutouts then were shut out in back-to-back 5-0 losses; they went three full games without a goal in regulation then scored three times in 14 minutes of Thursday’s first period; they followed a four-game losing streak with a five-game winning streak, then promptly lost two more in a row.
The highs may be coming with a little more frequency now, which is good considering the team is locked in a playoff race with Nashville and Calgary that figures to go down to the wire.
“Everything’s there. It’s just the last couple games we couldn’t score,” said forward Tanner Pearson, who assisted on two Jeff Carter goals and scored one of his own. “When you lose 5-0 twice in a row, it kind of gives you a kick in the butt and, you know, when we give ourselves the first goal, I think we’re pretty comfortable playing with that lead.”
Looking ahead, the Kings play Calgary four times in the season’s final seven weeks with three of those games in Canada. That last statistic is significant given the fact that just one NHL team has more road losses than the Kings’ 15.
Scoring in bunches … or not at all
And that allowed Peter Budaj, who had allowed nine goals in his last five periods, to play loose in goal, stopping 36 shots.
“It was great,” Budaj said of the confidence-boosting performance. ”Guys played great in front of me and made my job much easier when we had the lead.”
The penalty kill is deadly
The Kings held Florida scoreless on four power-play chances and have now killed off 26 consecutive power plays dating to an empty-net goal by the New York Islanders on Jan. 21. The team’s 84.3% kill rate is tops in the Western Conference.