Pond hockey, indeed. That was one thought during Wednesday night’s wild ride in Anaheim, even before the teams combined to score five goals in the third period. Takeaways? Yes, there were many for the Kings after an old-school, offense-first type game that resulted in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Ducks.
Defense in need of a fix, fast
Do the Kings move one of their little-used forwards to get the salary-cap space to bring in a defenseman from the minors in Manchester (N.H.), say, like Jeff Schultz?
It’s becoming clear that they need a course correction as the Ducks exploited the Kings’ weaknesses, at will, at times. Anaheim had 49 shots on goal and the Kings felt lucky to even reach overtime, salvaging a point through the exploits of their goalie, Jonathan Quick.
“He [Quick] kept us in it for the whole game, really,” center Anze Kopitar said. “We gave him five goals, but we gave up way too much stuff around our net and on the rush. We’ll have to look at that and get better in a hurry.”
Said Kings defenseman Matt Greene: “We want to establish our game plan, but we’ve had trouble doing it so far this year, especially on the road. Without Quickie, it’s a way worse game.”
There is often plenty of room in the doghouse of Kings Coach Darryl Sutter. On Wednesday, Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli settled into the kids’ wing.
Sutter sent a message, loud and clear, benching the young forwards for the entire third period and overtime. Toffoli happens to be the Kings’ leading scorer with 17 points and Pearson the third-leading scorer.
The third member of the “70s Line,” Jeff Carter, was moved to a line with Trevor Lewis, centered by Jarret Stoll. In fact, Carter had the most ice time of all the forwards, logging 21 minutes, 22 seconds.
Toffoli and Pearson weren’t the only forwards in disfavor. Left wing Kyle Clifford did not play after the second period either, limited to 4:55 of ice time. Toffoli played 10:43 and Pearson 8:00.
Sutter talked about his reasons for shortening the bench.
“It’s a big physical team we are playing, so you have to be prepared to play like that,” he said.
Failure to take advantage of Jonathan Quick’s great effort
The Kings squandered a two-goal lead in the third period as the Ducks scored twice in the final 5:40 of regulation, and were outshot, 49-26.
“It was too bad we lost in a shootout because then Jonathan feels tough, right? Even though he stood on his head to get us the point,” Sutter said.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty touched on a semi-positive development before turning to the issues undermining the Kings on Wednesday night.
“We usually don’t score five goals,” Doughty said. “At the same time, a lot of people were cheating out there tonight. I don’t think we were playing responsible in our own zone. We were trying to get breakaways, trying to find odd-man rushes. Trying to make pretty plays and against a team like that, that is very good in the neutral zone, you can’t do that.
“Without Quickie making some big saves, we probably wouldn’t have made it to overtime.”