The Kings, with about one-third of the roster apparently suffering from flu-like symptoms, got an early lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets but suffered another collapse on the road and lost 4-1 before 15,251 at Nationwide Arena.
Brad Richardson missed the game due to illness and was replaced by Oscar Moller, who was called up from
Mostly it was mistakes, by players both sick and healthy, that hurt the Kings. A poor pass by Alexander Frolov led to a tying goal late in the first period, after a Dustin Brown goal gave the Kings a 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the game. A baffling high-sticking penalty by Raitis Ivanans led to Raffi Torres’ power-play goal in the second period, and
A baffling high-sticking penalty by Raitis Ivanans led to Raffi Torres’ power-play goal in the second period, and
Jakub Voracek added an empty-net goal with 1:11 to play and afterward, in a locker room full of coughing, sniffling players, a brief players-only meeting took place.
``We had a talk in here,’’ said alternative captain Matt Greene, who said coach Terry Murray addressed the team afterward ``It was a good talk, there were a lot of points brought up and everybody knows what they’ve got to do in order to stop the bleeding.’’
The Kings dropped their third consecutive game and fell to 2-3 on this season-long six-game road trip – with Monday’s game at
Even counting the 2-0 start to the trip, the Kings have totaled nine goals in the first five road games and have yet to score more than two goals in a road game. Offensive production, last season’s biggest problem area, is rearing its head again, and in the past three games it has been accompanied by frequent defensive breakdowns as well.
``It’s not a lack of intensity, a lack of playing the system or playing with structure,’’
``It comes down to specific situations than overall team play.’'
Four players – Richardson, Frolov, Teddy Purcell and Justin Williams – were questionable for the game because of intense symptoms that varied from migraine-like headaches to digestive problems. All but
``Obviously I didn’t feel very good, but that’s no excuse for how things went,’’ Purcell said. ``It’s always tough, after not eating anything for two days and not skating, but I’ve got to find a way to be better than that. There’s no excuse for the way we played. It’s the fifth game of a road trip, but we found a way to beat ourselves.
``With the way things went last year, we were supposed to learn from those mistakes. We have to regroup as a team here, because we have an important game in
The sick players’ minutes seemed to be carefully managed, particularly Williams’ minutes on the top line. Brown sometimes joined that unit in Williams’ place.
``We’ve probably got seven, eight guys out there that are really, really low on energy right now,’’ Murray said. ``It showed, as we had to play catch-up. The tank just empties out too quickly. You call on a few guys, and even though they’re healthy, they’re playing in too many situations that are very hard to get through.
``That’s where you (should) check. We talked at the start of the game about that’s where you just have to play smart, check, be on top of things, keep the play in front of you, don’t beat yourself. That’s the way we ended up doing it in this game tonight.’’
The Kings, and particularly goalie Jonathan Quick, had a strong first period until the final minute, when Frolov’s turnover sparked a 2-on-1
From there, it pretty much all fell apart. The Kings outshot the Blue Jackets 28-24, but that was little consolation. They lost 29 of 48 faceoffs, went 0 for 5 on the power play – they’re now 1 for 17 in the last three games – and allowed a shorthanded goal.
Things actually started well for the Kings. Brown, the team captain, did his best to give the Kings a lift. He scored on a nice counterattack, after a long outlet pass from Ryan Smyth. Brown's wrist shot beat
Jason Chimera then scored to tie the game with 47 seconds left in the first period, after a 2-on-2 break by
The Kings went on the power play early in the third period, but the Blue Jackets showed why they have the best penalty-kill unit in the league this season.
Sammy Pahlsson pushed the puck ahead to Rick Nash, who put on a display. Nash carried the puck into the neutral zone, went around Kings forward Justin Williams, went wide and beat Quick with a backhand shot 3:30 into the third period.
After the Blue Jackets killed that penalty, they improved to 22 for 23 on the penalty kill this season, with two shorthanded goals.