Game 18; 11-6-1
BUFFALO – Whatever brought on their urgency en route to their 5-1 win over Vancouver on Saturday, it didn’t follow them to Buffalo as the Los Angeles Kings started their road trip on a negative note, losing more than just the game.
While it was inevitable that the Sabres would get the first home-ice win of the season, no team wants to play the victim, if you will. Unfortunately for the Kings, it was they who were on the opposite end of Buffalo’s first win at home this year. In the process, the losing streak in the Queen City continues for the Kings as they have not won in Buffalo since 2003.
After a quick start that saw Justin Williams score with just 1:17 into the contest, the Kings looked as though they were in control, completely outplaying the Sabres in the first period by outshooting them, 15-4.
In the second, it was more of the same, this time the Kings outshooting the Sabres, 15-3. But despite the barrage of shots through the opening 40 minutes, Los Angeles could not score again after the Williams goal. Instead, it was Buffalo who tied the game as Cody Hodgson tipped in his sixth past Jonathan Quick at the 12:46 mark of the second.
In the third, it was Hodgson again scoring his second of the night (this time on the power play) at the 4:26 mark to give the Sabres their first lead of the night.
At 12-9 the shot differential was more balanced in the third with Los Angeles again holding the advantage. But as it’s been somewhat of a theme so far, the Kings seem to score more with less shots – and that was the case on this night as Tyler Toffoli took a shot that netminder Ryan Miller couldn’t handle when Dwight King batted it out of mid-air and into the back of the net to tie the game. The goal was King’s fifth with Mike Richards getting the second assist.
While there wasn’t any scoring in overtime, the Kings and their fans did hold the collective breaths as Jonathan Quick went down with some sort of lower-body injury after making a routine save. Quick left the game and, at this point, there is no word on the severity of his condition.
Ben Scrivens then came on to finish the overtime session but surrendered goals to former King Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis in the shootout to give Buffalo their first win at the First Niagara Center this season.
While a goaltender of Ryan Miller’s calibre certainly deserves credit for keeping his team in the game through the first 40 minutes, the frustrating trend continues for the Los Angeles Kings were few goals result in a barrage of shots.
In the risk of sounding like a broken record, the effort is certainly there but there needs to be more traffic in front and less shooting the puck for the mere sake of shooting. While they did salvage a point (and with all due respect to the Sabres), these are the teams the Kings should be beating. Again, Miller deserves credit as he did play a great game but conversely, the Kings could have given him a harder time but turning a majority of those 45 shots into better scoring chances.
On a positive note, the line of Toffoli-King-Richards struck again scoring late to tie the game. Another positive was the Kings’ resiliency. Normally, trailing to the league’s worst team in the third despite vastly outplaying them would give any team a viable reason to pack it in and turn their focus to the next game. This wasn’t the case for the Kings who fought back and tied the game to earn a point.
As discouraging as a loss like this may seem, the thoughts are primarily with Jonathan Quick who, as previous mentioned, left the game with a lower-body injury. Determining how serious the injury is can be, for lack of a better term, a crapshoot. What looked like a groin pull (I’m only speculating) can leave a goaltender sidelined for weeks while others are back in action without missing a beat. All the team and fans can do now is wait and see just how serious, if at all, Quick’s injury is.
Overall, it was a disappointing way to start their road trip but the Kings are back at it on Thursday night when they travel to Nassau Coliseum to take on the New York Islanders in the first of two meetings this season.