There were more than a few takeaways from Monday night’s late collapse at Staples Center in the Kings’ last game before the brief holiday break, but we will limit the number in the spirit of Christmas cheer.
No lead appears to be safe
Is the 2-0 lead the most dangerous lead in hockey? Maybe it is the 3-0 margin?
For the Kings, it has been both in the last week. Lead protection came under attack on the road and at home. They blew a 2-0 lead in St. Louis on Dec. 16, allowing five unanswered goals, including three in the third period.
On Monday, the panic set in late. The Flames pulled within one with 2:12 remaining and tied the game with 59 seconds left. What is usually a poised veteran team suddenly looked jittery and vulnerable twice in the last week.
Holiday trap game
One skate out the door …
In 2013, the Kings also lost their last game before the Christmas break, dropping a slow-starting 5-2 clunker to the Dallas Stars on a Monday night, also at Staples, on Dec. 23.
It happened to be the first loss for then-rookie goalie Martin Jones in nine starts. Jones allowed two goals on the first two shots of the game.
This year, it was goalie Jonathan Quick taking the loss, giving up two third-period goals to Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau on consecutive shots. Gaudreau’s tying goal did, however, go in off the skate of Kings defenseman Drew Doughty.
Next year? Perhaps the schedule-makers should avoid putting the Kings at home in their last game before Christmas.
Ode to Johnny Hockey
Even before Gaudreau recorded his first NHL hat trick, yes, it has become abundantly clear that he deserves the nickname as he led the Flames to their first victory in nine games.
The kid is that good.
The Elias Sports Bureau helpfully unearthed a few notes about the accomplishment. Gaudreau, 21, became the youngest Calgary player to register a three-goal game since Dec. 28, 1987, when Joe Nieuwendyk did so (and added an assist) in a 9-3 victory over Montreal.
Interestingly, Flames rookie Josh Jooris (who missed Monday’s game because of injuries) picked up his first career hat trick before Gaudreau. Jooris had his on Dec. 2 against Arizona.