The Key Three: March 8
Three key aspects of the Kings' 3-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets
1. SLUMBER AT THE START
Anze Kopitar had a solid first period overall, not just because of his shorthanded goal, and Dustin Penner had some jump early. Where was everyone else? The second line, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter in particular, wilted. The Blue Jackets didn’t do anything terribly brilliant in the first period, but the Kings, for the most part, looked listless. They should have been confident and loose, coming off a big victory over Nashville two nights earlier, but didn’t look that way. The lack of intensity carried over to the final minute of the period, when Jack Johnson aggressively pounced on a loose puck and scored a sharp wrist shot from the slot.
2. SECOND-PERIOD SWING
After they gave up a goal with 8.5 seconds remaining in the first period, the Kings came out strong in the opening minutes of the second period and put consistent pressure on Columbus. That culminated just after the two-minute mark, when Jarret Stoll fed Dustin Penner for a grade-A chance directly in front of the net. According to the official stat sheet, Penner missed the net from about three feet away. Naturally, as karma goes, the Blue Jackets took a 3-1 lead just 65 seconds later, after Jonathan Bernier was unable to control a rebound in the blue paint and Mark Letestu scored. That was a deflating momentum-turner for the Kings.
3. ROUND ONE TO JOHNSON
It might be years before anyone can accurately ``score’’ the trade that sent Jeff Carter to the Kings in exchange for Jack Johnson and a first-round pick. But round one went to Johnson, and not just because the Blue Jackets won. Carter had a bit of a disadvantage, because Johnson was playing in front of his adoring new fans while Carter got booed every time he touched the puck. Johnson, though, clearly looked like the more motivated and aggressive player of the two. Johnson had a goal and looked loose. Carter looked tight, as he tried to force a couple chances early, and finished the game without a point and with zero shots on goal.