The Key Three: Feb. 4
Three key aspects of the Kings' 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes
1. EARLY EFFORT NOT SECONDED
The Kings, for the most part, got exactly the start they wanted. The Kings took an early penalty but killed it with ease, then generated some confidence with a beautiful power-play goal, on an alert pass from Justin Williams and a first-class shot from Anze Kopitar. The Kings kept the pressure on throughout the first period, held the Hurricanes to only four shots on goal and continued to get opportunities, but could not break through with a second goal. A two-goal lead, before the end of the first period, would have changed the dynamic. Instead, the Hurricanes were allowed to hang around, and finally wore down the Kings late.
2. BEST PLAYERS (OR ARE THEY?)
Before the game, Darryl Sutter made no secret of the fact that he needed, and wanted, more from his best players. Sutter had been displeased that the St. Louis Blues’ best players had outperformed the Kings’ top players the night before, and Sutter wanted better. Did he get it? Not really. After the game, Sutter protected his players by saying he was pleased with the effort, but he couldn’t have been pleased with everything. Anze Kopitar had a goal and Justin Williams had a nice assist. After that? Neither Dustin Brown nor Dustin Penner recorded a shot on goal. Mike Richards continues to be missing in action.
3. THIRD-PERIOD FALLOFF
Like a car with its headlights left on in the parking lot, the Kings slowly but surely lost power as their collective battery drained. The Hurricanes, a faster team anyway, had the benefit of a rest day Friday while the Kings played in St. Louis. It showed. The Kings gave their best effort in the first period but, as mentioned above, couldn’t get that huge second goal. Carolina hung around and hung around, and finally pounced after Jiri Tlusty blocked a shot and scored at the other end. The Kings have been a strong third-period team this season. Could they bounce back? No. They had only seven third-period shots on goal.