Special Teams Proves Vital as Preds Outlast Kings; Falls to 9-6-0
Game 15; 9-6-0
LOS ANGELES – After falling behind by two goals twice, the Los Angeles Kings came back to tie the game in the third only to lose to the Nashville Predators by a score of 4-3.
Like it had been in previous games, the Kings’ inability to stay out of the penalty box hurt them.
At the 11:15 mark of the opening frame, David Legwand increased his team scoring lead snapping his third past Jonathan Quick to open the scoring. While it never is promising to have the opposing team score first, it was especially discouraging seeing Legwand move through the middle so easily – too easily – en route to the goal. While the Kings were shorthanded, to allow one opposing player that much room is unacceptable.
Then, with just 54 seconds remaining in the first, defenseman Shea Weber scored his own power play goal, essentially potting an empty-netter for his fourth, taking advantage of an out-of-position Quick. It appeared as if the wind was completely taking out of the Los Angeles sails until Anze Kopitar got the home team on the board just 17 seconds later with his third of the year. Still, after outshooting the Preds 14-6 (in addition to Nashville starting a rookie netminder), the Kings should have had a better start.
There was only one goal to speak in the second as Nashville’s Eric Nystrom snapped his fourth past Quick to put the Preds by a pair. Again, Los Angeles outshot their opposition, this time by a 10-5 tally.
While there wasn’t any scoring for much of the third period’s first half, the Kings did come to life thanks to Dustin Brown’s third of the year at the 9:41 mark. Then, approximately a minute-and-a-half later, Mike Richards’s third tied the game with a power play goal with Tyler Toffoli earning his first point on the year with the assist. Jake Muzzin helped out with the other assist.
Unfortunately any hopes of completing the comeback were not to be as David Legwand struck again, scoring his second on the evening with just under four minutes to play in regulation.
Despite being outshot in the third 14-6 and 38-17 overall, the Nashville Predators left Staples Center with the win.
While both teams’ special teams departments had productive nights (Nashville: 2-for-3, Los Angeles 1-for-3), the slow start for the Kings was mostly caused by their aforementioned inability to stay out of the box. Granted, they fought back but they should have had a much better start, as I alluded to before.
Early in the second, Jarret Stoll left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return. The faceoff specialist has since been listed as day-to-day and being that the Kings don’t play again until Thursday when they host the Buffalo Sabres, the time off may hopefully give Stoll a chance to return without missing much action. But we’ll see.
Speaking of special teams, there were not one, not two but three high-sticking infractions against Los Angeles that were not called. While it is frustrating to see the Kings not only take penalties but surrender power play goals, it is even more so frustrating when the opposing team gets away going to the box.
Speaking of frustrating, this was the third time where the Kings were shut down despite peppering the opposition with shots. While they did score three times, more traffic is needed if the Kings expect to get better results. With all due respect to Nashville’s Carter Hutton, this is now the second time in the span of a week where the Kings let a little-known netminder look like an all-star. Again, I mean no disrespect to Hutton or Edmonton’s Richard Bachman but the Los Angeles Kings need to change this trend if they want to get back – and stick to – the winning track.