This was about as close to a playoff-type game as you’ll see on a Tuesday night in February.
Which is why Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, who seems incapable of hiding his emotions, put it all out there after the Kings lost, having given up the go-ahead goal to the league-leading Washington Capitals with 2 minutes 2 seconds remaining in regulation. Forward Justin Williams, the former King, set up that game-winning goal, and the Capitals went on to prevail, 3-1.
Doughty said he was not a “happy man” after the latest Kings loss, their second in a span of three days.
“I think we wasted our goals in the Boston game,” Doughty said.
The Kings scored nine goals against the Bruins a week ago, and since then, they’ve almost been rationing goals, scoring sparingly. They’ve scored once in their last two games, both losses.
“We’re in a situation where we need to find points,” forward Dustin Brown said.
Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin echoed Doughty’s sentiment about maybe using up all the goals in Boston, and agreed that the game against Washington had a playoff-like feel.
“That’s the way we looked at it,” he said. “They kind of have their season almost wrapped up and we’re clawing here.”
The Kings held a 1-0 lead until the final minute of the second period. Center Anze Kopitar scored a short-handed goal at 16:43 of the first period, converting a rebound of his shot on a sharp angle to get the puck past goalie Philipp Grubauer.
But the catalyst on the scoring play was Doughty, who broke up a two-on-one break at the other end by cutting off a pass from Marcus Johansson, who was trying to set up Alex Ovechkin.
“I was happy I made that play and happy we scored on it but we didn’t win. So I’m not a happy man after that game.”
Andre Burakovsky’s redirection past goalie Jonathan Quick tied it, 1-1, with 48.1 seconds remaining in the second period. With 2:02 remaining in the third, Williams found Evgeny Kuznetsov alone for the go-ahead goal, making it 2-1 as Quick lost his stick on the play. Jason Chimera scored an empty-netter with nine seconds left.
Coach Darryl Sutter registered a challenge on the Kuznetsov goal. But the league’s situation room ruled that there was no goaltender interference with Quick before the puck crossed the line and the original call stood.
“It’s tough to miss him when he’s standing right in front of the net,” Williams said. “I tried to get it over there as quick as possible and give him an empty net because he gave me one earlier that I couldn’t convert on.”
Said Sutter: “The goalies made some big saves. We couldn’t get that second one. But we had lots of good opportunities. The last five minutes you were just trusting the guys that you have on the ice and we probably got caught with some inexperience on the back end on that last goal.”
This has been something of a reunion tour for the Kings. Left wing Milan Lucic returned to Boston for the first time since the Bruins traded him to Los Angeles. The Kings not only faced Williams but played against another former teammate, Capitals center Mike Richards.
“It was weird looking over in warmups and seeing them,” Doughty said. “Rick always stretches in the same spot. He used to stretch right beside me. I looked over and smiled at him. It’s weird playing against them. We understand they’re not a part of our team anymore. We’ll always have those memories with them and we’ll never forget.
“Now they’re on the opposite side. Next time we play them, we’ve got to beat them.”