Game 7; 4-3-0

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Entering their contest on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Kings were looking to pick up a win in their third-straight outing. Unfortunately, they fell behind the 8-ball right from the get-go and could not recover as the offensive onslaught of the Lightning was simply too much on this night.

Right after the game’s opening faceoff, the Kings went back into their own zone to play the puck when Drew Doughty made a careless turnover right in front of his own net to Tampa Bay’s Ryan Malone who then help set up the game’s opening goal. Just 19 seconds into the game, Los Angeles was down 1-0 thanks a Sami Salo point shot that was tipped in by the aforementioned Malone. With the assist, Martin St. Louis extended his point-streak to five games. Unfortunately for the Kings, the veteran wasn’t content on settling with one helper.

At the 12:44 mark of the first, the Lightning added to their lead as former Teddy Purcell came racing down the left wing to beat Jonathan Quick.

After a shootout in the opening frame which saw the Lightning put up 11 shots to Los Angeles’s 10, the Kings came out swinging in the second and it appeared as if they were back in the game.

Just over 30 seconds into the middle frame, Jeff Carter scored but the goal was waved off after Mike Richards interfered with Tampa netminder Ben Bishop. The goal was barely reviewed, if at all, and the decision stood. The Lightning still had their two-goal lead. Yet while interfering with the goaltending is a touchy (no pun intended) issue in the NHL, the replay clearly showed that Richards was not skating towards Bishop nor was he even near the lip of the crease. While Richards was passing by, Sami Salo knocked Richards into Bishop which happened the same time Carter scored causing the referees to disallow the goal. While I never like sounding bias towards a goal dispute, I can’t even deny the shoddiness of the officials to call that goal back when the fault was all on Salo and not on Richards who couldn’t help but make contact with the netminder. Nevertheless, it was still 2-0 and despite the disallowed goal, the Kings continued to push hard.

After trading shots in the first, Los Angeles outshot Tampa Bay 15-7 in the second but they couldn’t muster any momentum. Their power play was horrendous going 0-for-5 including a squandered double-minor in the second period.

Despite all their momentum in the middle frame, the Kings had the wind taken out of their sails as Martin St. Louis scored his third of the year off a textbook feed from Steven Stamkos to put the Lightning up by three and, in the process, end Jonathan Quick’s night who allowed three goals on 17 shots. More on that later.

Coming off his shutout in Florida on Sunday, Ben Scrivens was back between the pipes on Tuesday, albeit under different circumstances. But in the third, his team gave him some support as Slava Voynov’s first of the year broke Ben Bishop’s shutout bid at 10:27 of the frame to give Los Angeles an outside chance to come back.

But any chance of a comeback proved to be all for naught as the Lightning took advantage of another defensive blunder by the Kings and scored on a beautiful three-on-one give-and-go finished off by one Martin St. Louis who made it 4-1 just over two minutes later.

The Lightning added another tally late for good measure as they won by a convincing score of 5-1 handing Los Angeles the first loss of their current road swing.

Looking back on this game, most can look at it either way. One hand, the Kings had a lacklustre game defensively but on the other hand, the speed and fluidity of Tampa Bay’s offense certainly cannot be overlooked, especially with the duo of Stamkos and St. Louis who combined for five points on Tuesday.

It is hard to believe that Los Angeles’s opponents had missed the playoffs the previous two seasons because after the way Tampa Bay played, they proved to be a team capable of anything – and that includes Teddy Purcell who wasn’t given much playing time when he was in Los Angeles nor did he have much of an identity with the club.

While the Kings did have a rough night that saw Jonathan Quick getting pulled for already the second time this season in addition to producing a goose egg on the man-advantage, there is no reason to panic.

Los Angeles’s performance on Tuesday was simply a minor setback and now they have a day to regroup before heading to Nashville for a Thursday night tilt with another up-and-coming squad in the Predators.