What we learned from the Kings’ 4-2 loss to the Ducks on Friday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim:
More work ahead
The Kings have made a remarkable climb from outside the top eight in the West to get back into the playoff picture, but their work isn’t done yet. Playing their third game in four nights, they ultimately were worn down by the Ducks’ persistent forecheck and gave up four goals in the third period, the last one into an empty net.
“There’s not a single team that you can sit back and just collect points against and not play the third period,” Kings defenseman Matt Greene said. “That’s a case in point [Friday]. They’re a good team, but you can’t do that against anybody. We have to be better than that. We have to continue playing our game, continue getting pucks deep, and forecheck teams. That’s how we play and that’s how we have success grinding teams down.”
Confidence not shaken with two losses in a row
The Kings gained confidence during their eight-game winning streak. Two losses — to Ottawa on Thursday and to the Ducks on Friday — aren’t about to undermine that confidence.
That’s why Jeff Carter said he didn’t read much into the game other than the obvious — he and his teammates have to play better in the third period. That’s why Coach Darryl Sutter agreed with Carter.
“That would be correct,” Sutter said. “We have a tough travel day [Saturday] and we’ll fight for a playoff spot.”
Said team captain Dustin Brown: “It’s the National Hockey League, and if you don’t play 60 good minutes then you’re not going to win the game.”
They’ve done this before, overcoming mid-season doldrums to finish strong and begin playoff runs that took them to the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014 and to the Western conference finals in 2013. Their loss on Friday doesn’t mean they can’t do it again.
Sutter is in verbal-clampdown playoff mode
Asked what happened in the third period, he said the Ducks’ forecheck had overwhelmed his players as they got deeper into their third game in four days. Asked how newly acquired defenseman Andrej Sekera had performed in his Kings debut, Sutter again discussed the Ducks’ forecheck. When did he feel the game turning? Yup, he brought up the forecheck again.
Sounded a lot like tight-lipped Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch’s repeated response of “I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” during media interviews leading up to the Super Bowl. The less Sutter says, the closer the playoffs are.