Kings lose to Ducks 2-0
ANAHEIM -- The Kings are stuck on the Western Conference escalator, going down.
It was another game, another loss and another drop in the conference standings for the Kings on Monday night, as they lost to the rival Anaheim Ducks 2-0 at Honda Center.
The Kings have now lost four consecutive games, and seven of their last eight. They're now 11th in the conference and last in the Pacific Division, having been passed by Anaheim and San Jose. Less than 10 days ago, the Kings were in first in the conference.
``I guess this game was a little bit better, but the final result is that we still got the loss,'' Kings winger Wayne Simmonds
said. ``It doesn't make a difference. We have to find a way to get two points. No excuses.''
Familiar themes haunted the Kings. They were shut out for the first time this season and have totaled only four goals in their last four games. On defense, their two most talented players -- Drew Doughty
and Jack Johnson
-- made frequent mistakes in both zones.
, per usual, was strong in goal, with 17 saves, but once again got little support, as Cam Fowler's second-period power-play goal held up as the game-winner. Jason Blake added a game-clinching goal with 2:24 remaining in the third period.
The Ducks shut out the Kings for the first time since Nov. 16, 2008, and withstood a strong effort by the Kings in the third period, when the Kings outshot the Ducks 10-4.
``That's been the story for the last eight games,'' Simmonds said. ``We decide to play when we want, and obviously that's not good enough. That's not cutting it. If we're going to pull out of this, we've got to play 60 minutes, hard. It can't be 59. It can't be 59:30. It's got to be the full 60. That's the only way we're going to come out of this tailspin.''
Role players such as Kyle Clifford
, Trevor Lewis
, Kevin Westgarth
and Alec Martinez
also got passing grades for their efforts, and in some circles of the Kings' dressing room, the 60-minute effort was praised, but it wasn't nearly enough against the Ducks.
It's no longer early in the season. The Kings have played 23 games, and after a franchise-record 12-3-0 start, they have recorded only two points in the past 16 days.
After beating Boston on Nov. 20, the Kings were first in the conference. A loss to Ottawa dropped them to second. A loss to Montreal dropped them to sixth. A loss to Montreal dropped them to ninth. Now, they're in 11th place.
``There were games in this slump where we've played hard, but it hasn't been a consistent thing though,'' Kings captain Dustin Brown
said. ``I thought tonight we were consistently taking the body and rubbing guys out, which we need to be successful. We had our chances. Like I said, they had a good goalie, but it's probably the best 60 minutes we've played in a while.''
The frustration, though, is starting to show. Anze Kopitar
, robbed by Hiller on a point-blank shot late in the game, slammed his stick on the post after Blake's goal. Simmonds slammed his stick after the final horn and after the game Johnson sat silently at his locker, skates still laced, staring at the floor as his teammates showered and dressed.
Give Hiller credit for his part in frustrating the Kings' offense Monday, but both Ducks goals were the result of errors by defensemen the Kings count on for high-level play.
In the middle part of the second period, Doughty had been out of the penalty box for eight seconds before he took a second tripping penalty. The Ducks scored -- on Fowler's slap shot -- seven seconds into the ensuing power play.
``I had just gotten out of the box and I came out and took another penalty, and they pretty much scored right away,'' Doughty said. ``So obviously, I am not happy with myself for taking that penalty, but it sucks to lose.''
Then, late in the third period, with the Kings swarming for a potential game-tying goal, Johnson's poor giveaway led to a quick 2-on-1 break and Blake's clinching goal.
``They need to be better,'' Kings coach Terry Murray said of Doughty and Johnson. ``They need to be better. Everybody is battling a little bit, a little bit of fumbling of the puck, and maybe a little bit of nervous play with the puck at times. We need those guys. The only way you get out of anything is with your best players taking charge, and we need them to be our best players.
``The two players on the back end, Doughty and Jack, we need them to be A-plus every night, and certainly right now. I thought they had a slow start, and then they got a little bit better as the game went along, but we need those guys better, for sure.''
The Kings now head back to STAPLES Center for a Thursday night home game against Florida, a game Doughty said is ``a must-win. There's no way we can lose that game.''
The pieces have been in place for the Kings, but not at the same time. Quick has been consistent in goal, and the offensive chances have been present but the ability to finish them has not.
After the game, Murray said he would not consider wholesale changes to his line combinations, apparently believing that the Kings, as constructed, are on the verge of figuring things out themselves and emerging from their recent slump.
``The overall team game is pretty good,'' Murray said. ``There's lots of good things happening, and we're building, I think, every game, to just break through. It's just a matter of getting the next opportunity. So I'm not going to fool around with the line combinations right now. I'm starting to see some good chemistry develop.''
The second line of Ryan Smyth
, Jarret Stoll
and Justin Williams
was productive, with a combined 11 shots on goal, but the Kings got little from the blue line, as Doughty had one shot on goal and Johnson had none.
``We know, as a team, we haven't been creating as many chances as we'd like,'' Doughty said, ``and we've got to get back to the basics. Getting pucks to the net and getting guys to the goal, that is the only way we are going to be able to score goals. We just need to focus on getting our shots on target, first of all, and having a body in front.''
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