| • Game Highlights
• Photo Gallery
• Kings Insider
It's a short trip from San Jose to Phoenix, but somewhere along the way, the Kings lost something: their defense. It didn't turn up in Los Angeles on Thursday night, either.
One night after a rough defensive effort in the Arizona desert, the Kings didn't fare any better Thursday, as the Philadelphia Flyers scored five goals in the game's first 31 minutes and went on to a 7-4 victory over the Kings before 18,118 at STAPLES Center.
After a four-game winning streak, the Kings have now lost back-to-back games with some strikingly poor play in their own end and a breakdown in discipline against the Flyers. For a second straight night, the Kings' starting goalie didn't make it to the third period.
``They were certainly two of our ugliest (games) of the year,'' Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi said. ``We're not making excuses for ourselves, but it does happen. We have to scrape it under the rug and move on.''
The Kings allowed a season-worst seven goals, on 28 shots, one night after they allowed six goals to Phoenix. That's 13 goals in two games, made all the more remarkable by the fact that the Kings had allowed a total of three goals in their previous four games, including a shutout of usually high-powered San Jose on Monday.
``It's lapses, but over the last 120 minutes we're just not playing well,'' Kings defenseman Matt Greene said. ``That's something that needs to change right away. If we want to win games, we can't give up six and seven (goals) on back-to-back nights and expect to win any games.
``It’s mental and execution. It goes hand in hand. We’ve got to play the game, think the game and right now we’re not doing either one on defense. … This game got away from us. That’s it. We’ve got to be more disciplined against a team like that. We’ve just got to be better from everybody.''
At the end of a rough stretch of four games in five nights, the Kings got two goals from Ryan Smyth, plus goals from Jack Johnson and Justin Williams, but allowed two power-play goals and had a rough start to their season-long eight-game homestand.
The back-breaking goal came in the middle part of the second period. The Kings had pulled within 4-3 on Johnson's power-play goal, then got called for interference (on Davis Drewiske) and slashing (on Scuderi) to give Philadelphia a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:26. The Flyers scored for a two-goal lead, and later made it 6-3.
``I want to look at it again,'' Kings coach Terry Murray said. ``I want to see them on the video. But boy, when you're getting a slashing call that puts you down on a 5-on-3, you better have almost chopped a leg off. And I don't know if that was the case.''
Remarkably, Thursday's game actually started quite well for the Kings. They held first-period leads of 1-0 and 2-1, on goals by Smyth and Williams, and were tied after the first period but suffered defensive breakdowns in the second period.
The Flyers scored four second-period goals and took a 6-3 lead late in the period, then made it 7-4 in the third. The Kings were in danger of allowing eight goals in a game for the first time since they lost 8-6 to the Boston Bruins on Oct. 12, 2007.
Over five days, the Kings underwent a defensive transformation, and not a positive one.
Starting early in the second period of Sunday's game against Anaheim, and ending early in the first period of Wednesday's game at Phoenix, the Kings went 104-plus minutes without allowing a goal. That span included a shutout over San Jose on Monday.
Then, starting in the sixth minute of the Phoenix game, through the middle of the second period Thursday, the Kings allowed 12 goals in a span of 90 minutes.
``We're certainly not tightening up like we should be, and like we have all season,'' Scuderi said. ``Tonight, I thought we were playing fine in the first period. The only two chances I think they got, the whole period, they buried them. That's the way it goes sometimes. You try to shake it off, but certainly we're going to need some work in that department.''
Put more simply, the Kings shut out the high-powered Sharks on Monday, then pulled their starting goalie in each of the next two games. Jonathan Quick didn't make it to the end of the second period on Wednesday, and neither did Jonathan Bernier on Thursday.
Bernier got called to the bench, in favor of Quick, after the Flyers scored six goals on 22 shots and took a 6-3 lead with 5:43 remaining in the second period. The previous night in Phoenix, Bernier relieved Quick after the Coyotes scored six goals on 24 shots.
Once again, the game got away from the Kings in the second period after a promising start. The Kings twice took the lead in the first period against the Flyers.
The Kings got off to a positive start and took a 1-0 lead at the 2:39 mark. Smyth held the puck behind the net and fed a backhand shot toward the net as he skated to the corner. Smyth actually released the puck from below the goal line, but it caught Flyers goalie Michael Leighton by surprise and deflected into the net.
This time, the Kings held the lead for four minutes before the Flyers tied the game 1-1. Richards held the puck in the corner and fed a backhand pass to Briere in the right circle. Briere had three Kings defenders around him but wheeled and fired a high wrist shot that beat Bernier at the 6:47 mark.
The Kings took the lead back with 8:56 remaining in the first period, at the end of a lengthy delayed-penalty situation. Drew Doughty held the puck just inside the blue line and passed down low to Williams. Williams took a couple strides toward the net and, with Smyth running traffic in front, scored on a wrist shot to give the Kings a 2-1 lead.
Philadelphia took advantage of some good timing at the end of a penalty and tied the game 2-2 with 4:12 remaining in the first period. Richards picked up the puck in the neutral zone just as Nikolay Zherdev was exiting the press box. Jack Johnson was there in coverage, but Drew Doughty couldn't catch up as Richards and Zherdev started a 2-on-1 break. Richards kept the puck and beat Bernier with a shot from the inside of the left circle.
The Flyers took their first lead, at 3-2, at the 4:05 mark of the second period. Claude Giroux centered the puck from the corner and Hartnell, tied up in front, had the puck deflect off his skate and into the net. The goal was upheld after a video review.
``I took a look at the replay,'' Murray said. ``He's just coming into the crease and stopping. It's a good goal. I would want it as a good goal my way, too.''
Philadelphia needed just 54 seconds to push its lead to 4-2, as Richards picked up his second goal of the game. Briere pushed the puck out front, from behind the net, and van Riemsdyk alertly passed the puck around a sliding Kings defender and onto the stick of Richards, who tapped it in from the side of the net, 5:11 into the second period.
A power-play goal pulled the Kings within one goal at the 8:11 mark. After Leighton made a point-blank save on Michal Handzus, the puck came back up top, and Johnson ripped a slap shot past Leighton from the left point with Handzus running traffic in front to cut the Flyers' lead to 4-3.
Soon after the Kings made it a one-goal game, the Flyers regained their two-goal lead with a 5-on-3 goal. Drewiske was called for interference, and then Scuderi took an uncharacteristic slashing penalty, giving the Flyers a two-man advantage for 1:26. After a scramble in front of the Kings' net, Carter slipped the puck under the prone Bernier to give the Flyers a 5-3 lead at the 11-minute mark.
``We've got to execute better,'' Murray said. ``We've got to be more disciplined. You give anybody 5-on-3 power plays, you're going to pay a big price for it. That was a part of the problem tonight.''
Philadelphia's second power-play goal of the period gave the Flyers a 6-3 lead with 5:43 remaining in the second period. The Kings killed a 20-second 5-on-3 Flyers power play, but couldn't kill the second penalty, as van Riemsdyk picked up a rebound in the right circle, turned and beat Bernier with a wrist shot.
``We’ve got to be more disciplined,'' Greene said. ``We can’t be in the box the way we were. They’re a good team and they’re going to score goals if you give them opportunities and tonight we did that.''
Quick then replaced Bernier in goal, after the Flyers scored six goals on 22 shots.
The Kings pulled back within two goals with a power-play goal with 2:48 remaining in the second period. Leighton made a stop on Jarret Stoll's shot, but Smyth, in front of the net, poked at the rebound and knocked it into the net to make it a 6-4 game. Drew Doughty also picked up an assist on Smyth's second goal of the game.
The Kings allowed their seventh goal -- a season-worst -- as the Flyers took a 7-4 lead at the 9:10 mark of the third period. After the Flyers kept control of the puck down low, Leino got control in the slot, shot through traffic and beat Quick to give the Flyers a three-goal lead again, for the final margin.
``We’re going to get back on the ice to practice,'' Murray said. ``Out of this whole thing, that’s probably the light at the end of the tunnel for me, that we’re going to be home for six, seven games now. We've got practice time. We're a young hockey club.
``When you're on the road and you're traveling, with late nights, it's not an excuse, it's just part of the schedule. That's the way it is in the NHL. You're not going to get the quality work in, to keep the habits in place. Now we're back. We have about two weeks of being around here and playing some games, but what’s important is getting on the ice and practicing and reviewing and going through the fundamentals of the game.''