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|Jonathan Quick Post Game 2/19/11 - Sat, 19 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST|
|Terry Murray Post Game 2/19/11 - Sat, 19 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST|
|Dustin Brown Post Game 2/19/11 - Sat, 19 Feb 2011 00:00:00 EST|
|Fight Club: Paterson vs Maguire - Fri, 18 Feb 2011|
|A Sit-Down with Bob Berry - Thu, 17 Feb 2011|
|Dustin Time - Thu, 17 Feb 2011|
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UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- To be certain, the Kings did not save their best for last.
At the end of a six-game road trip, and in their ninth consecutive game away from Southern California, the Kings seemingly had a golden opportunity to cap their East Coast swing with a win, but instead turned in their most ragged effort of the month.
Facing a New York Islanders team that had allowed at least three goals in eight consecutive games, the Kings started slow, never really recovered and ended their road trip with a 3-0 loss to the Islanders on Saturday night before 13,119 at Nassau Coliseum.
Matt Moulson, a former Kings forward and the brother-in-law of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, scored two goals after Frans Nielsen scored a first-period shorthanded goal. Al Montoya, making his first NHL start since 2009, looked in control as he stopped 35 shots.
``It was a tough one, as a team,'' Quick said. ``We've been playing really well on the road here, and we would have liked it to have finished up the way it was going. Unfortunately it hasn't, so we've got to go back, we've got to regroup.''
Tired legs are somewhat understandable at the end of an 11-day road trip, and the speedy, aggressive Islanders certainly did nothing to ease the Kings' fatigue level.
The Kings also lost a chance at history. They had been 8-0-3 in their previous 11 games, tying the franchise record -- set in 1974 -- for most consecutive games with at least one point. The Kings also hadn't lost to the Islanders in regulation since 2003.
In general, it was a successful trip for the Kings, who went 3-1-2 in the second leg of their season-long run of 10 consecutive road games. On the other hand, it was something of a head scratcher. as the Kings lost to the Islanders -- who have been near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings all season -- after a series of strong efforts.
``It was a great road trip,'' Kings coach Terry Murray said. ``It could have been a great road trip, with a win tonight. It was a very good road trip. We played some very hard teams, in big buildings, and had to come through with the right kind of attitude and the right kind of intensity. There was good spirit throughout the whole road trip. I was happy about that. Now we've got to bring it back home. We've got a couple days, one more game on the road before we've got some games back home.''
The Kings played themselves back into the top eight in the Western Conference during the trip, which included impressive victories over Washington and Philadelphia, and now must take care of business with nine consecutive games in Southern California.
``It would have been a great road trip if we got two points,'' Kings captain Dustin Brown said. ``Everyone was looking at this as our major break, and we're right there. We've just got to keep going. It's hard to sit here and be happy with how we played tonight, but we'll get home and get some rest and get ready for Anaheim.''
Before Saturday's game, Murray talked about the need for the Kings to avoid being ``ambushed'' at the end of a long road trip. It was more like a self-inflicted wound. In fact, it took exactly 64 seconds to note that things might not go the Kings' way on the island.
On the game's second shift, Kings center Michal Handzus, almost always one of their most reliable defensive-zone forwards, had a short, careless pass picked off by the Islanders' John Tavares, who forced Quick into a tough save.
The turnover, by itself, didn't cost the Kings anything, but it did set a tone. The Kings looked a step slow throughout the first period while the young Islanders, who have had a series of high-scoring games in recent weeks, pushed the action in both ends.
Scoring chances were few and far between for the Kings, at least until they fell into a two-goal deficit. The Kings were sharper in the second period, when they outshot the Islanders 17-8, but even when they had quality chances, they couldn't beat Montoya. The Kings went 0-for-3 on the power play and are 1-for-15 in their last six games.
On the other end, Quick made 20 saves but got beat on two fairly long-range shots, as Nielsen scored from the high slot and Moulson scored from above the faceoff dot.
Montoya, acquired from Phoenix 10 days earlier, for a sixth-round draft pick, is only in the NHL because of a run of injuries to the Islanders' goalies, but the new-look Kings lines, including a first line of Anze Kopitar, Brad Richardson and Wayne Simmonds, couldn't solve him. Montoya, a former first-round pick, recorded his second career NHL shutout.
``They've got a lot of speed,'' Quick said. ``They're good around the net. They've got some players that can bury it around the net. Montoya played a good game for them. He played well. He made saves. So that's a good formula to win.''
Montoya got all the support he would need with an unlikely first-period goal.
The Islanders got on the scoreboard first, with a shorthanded goal 5:01 into the game. Jack Johnson's pass attempt to Drew Doughty was tipped, then controlled, by Michael Grabner at the Islanders' blue line. Grabner the pushed the puck ahead to Nielsen, whose sharp wrist shot from the high slot beat Quick to give the Islanders a 1-0 lead.
``The first power play we get, we make a real soft, easy pass, and they jump on it,'' Murray said. ``That's kind of the way the whole thing went, all night long. I don't think we completed three passes in a row tonight. We had a lot of plays end after that second pass.
``Even on the attacks, when we had possession, we failed to do the right thing through the middle of the ice to give us an opportunity to get an offensive-zone play going. Even though I think we tried to get it going in the second period -- there were better decisions that were made, and we did start to do things -- when it came to continuing the play with another pass or holding on to the puck a little bit longer, to open up some ice to make a play, it ended. So it was one of those nights.''
The Islanders took a 2-0 lead 6:54 into the second period, as Moulson beat Quick, his relative, friend and former teammate. PA Parenteau pushed the puck from the boards to the right circle, where Moulson steadied it and then, with Rob Scuderi standing directly in front of him, whipped a high wrist shot past Quick.
Moulson's second goal of the game gave the Islanders a 3-0 lead with 6:20 remaining. Moulson, stationed in front with his back to the net, steadied a pass from Parenteau on his stick, then spun and, with Matt Greene in front of him, put a wrist shot past Quick.
``The Islanders, right now, are in a very relaxed state,'' Murray said. ``Their players are just playing. They're stretching guys out. They're leaving the zone early, to look for those long opportunities. There's no pressure, there's no consequence for anything that's happening out there right now. So that's the easiest time in your life to play hockey, is when you're just having fun. Give them credit for doing that. They came at us and won the game. They beat us 3-0.''