Another loss for Kings, who remain in search of an identity
Lost: One identity.
The search party may be out in full force, but the Kings appear no closer to finding one, despite all their season-long efforts, the most recent coming in a largely lackluster loss to the Minnesota Wild.
League-leading Minnesota defeated the Kings, 4-2, on Thursday night at Staples Center, recording their sixth straight win on the road, a team record.
Identity crisis, you say? Well, the Kings are establishing patterns in the negative sense of the word. They continue to be offensively challenged and unable to win without center Mike Richards in the lineup, losing three consecutive games since he went on injured reserve because of a suspected concussion.
Minnesota received balanced scoring, getting goals from centers Mikko Koivu, Darroll Powe and Cody Almond and defenseman Marco Scandella. The first Kings goal came, on a rebound, from left wing Dustin Penner, who cut the deficit to 3-1 early in the third period, spoiling the shutout bid of Wild rookie Matt Hackett, and Trent Hunter added another goal for the Kings with 3:38 remaining, his first goal for the Kings.
It was Penner’s second goal in the last three games since he was activated off injured reserve after being out because of a broken hand. Penner also scored in Saturday’s loss against Montreal and has points in the last three games.
His goal gave the Kings a flickering sign of life, albeit a little too late, another alarming pattern.
Just when they were establishing some third-period momentum, outshooting the Wild, 11-1, in the opening nine minutes, Kings goalie Jonathan Quick had a rare lapse. Almond, scoring his second NHL goal, beat Quick between the legs, with 8:18 remaining.
Quick, however, has kept the Kings afloat in so many games, giving them a shot to win when they had no business staying close. This season, Quick has had four shutouts, and Hackett appeared on his way to getting one against the Kings. But Penner’s goal ended a shutout streak of 102 minutes 36 seconds by Hackett.
The lack of scoring punch by the Kings was addressed once again afterward. They were unable to take advantage of a five-on-three for 59 seconds in the second period when Wild center Kyle Brodziak was given a five-minute major for boarding, taking down Anze Kopitar. Kopitar went down hard and went off the ice slowly but later returned during the ensuing power play.
“We’re going to have to score some goals,” said Kopitar. “It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter how, deflections, rebounds, take the corner. Whatever it is, we’re going to have to score more goals.”
Kings Coach Terry Murray lamented giving up quick goals at the start of a period. Minnesota scored 24 seconds into the game, and 1:25 into the second period.
“It’s a killer,” Murray said. “You can’t give up a goal in the first shift like we did at the start of the period. You work hard. You try to climb out of the hole. You try to turn the tables in the third period with lots of things. But sometimes, it’s too late. It was too late tonight.”
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