The Key Three: March 26
Three key aspects of the Kings' 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks
1. KINGS’ INVISIBLE STARS
Yes, the Kings put forth another big fight late in the third period, just as they did Saturday night against Boston, and they very easily could have tied the game. Why, though, were the Kings in that desperate position to begin with? Jonathan Quick gave up a bad early goal, but it was just one goal. The Kings previously scored four goals in a game against Vancouver this season, so one shouldn’t have been out of the question, even for a tired group. Where was Jeff Carter? He completely vanished in a big game, and Mike Richards looked uncomfortable with the puck for most of the night. The first and fourth lines were aggressive, but otherwise the Kings got little.
2. ONE BAD GOAL TOO MANY
The Canucks entered the game with a 37-9-4 record this season when they scored the first goal in a game, and a 25-3-3 lead when they led after the first period. The absolute last thing the Kings wanted to face was an early deficit, especially on the road. Yet, the Canucks’ second shot beat Jonathan Quick. It was a skilled shot to the top corner by Manny Malhotra, but from that angle and with no traffic, it was completely stoppable. It’s tough to find fault with a goalie who loses 1-0, but given the type of game that was played, if Quick didn’t allow that goal, the game might well have been a replay of the St. Louis game, which the Kings won 1-0 in a shootout.
3. FIGHTING THE TEAM IN STRIPES
Winning teams rarely complain about officiating. They don’t need to complain. This is undeniably true, and for the most part, complaints about calls are tough to listen to, because over the course of a season they have a tendency to even out. But it’s hard to ignore what happened last night. Kyle Clifford got called for unsportsmanlike conduct for spraying Roberto Luongo, when Clifford’s only other option was to bulldoze Luongo like a linebacker. Then, late in the game, Dustin Penner got called for goalie interference when he was pushed into Luongo. One could also Matt Greene’s cross-checking penalty, when Henrik Sedin went down with the greatest of ease.