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Perhaps the Kings should have commissioned an arch to be built near the 110 freeway. Anything to help St. Louis look more like Los Angeles might have helped the cause.
After playing downright brilliant on the road for much of their recent four-game trip, the Kings couldn't have looked more different, or dreadful, on Thursday night, as they lost to the St. Louis Blues 4-0 before a sellout crowd of 18,118 at STAPLES Center.
The Kings suffered their widest losing margin of the season -- they previously had not lost by more than three goals -- and recorded a season-low with 17 shots on goal.
In reality, it was much worse. Midway through the second period, the Kings were being outshot 24-3, and the final margin ended up 39-17 in the Blues' favor. St. Louis essentially clinched the game with Matt D'Agostini's second goal, with seven seconds remaining in the second period, which gave the Blues a 2-0 lead.
Certainly, the Kings had the ability to rally from a two-goal deficit, but nothing in the first two periods suggested they would, and they didn't. In fact, the Blues added two goals, including one on a slap shot from the neutral zone. Afterward, Kings coach Terry Murray did little to hide his overall disdain for the game.
``There's nothing to explain. It's over,'' Murray said. ``There's nothing there. We had nothing going on. There was no energy. We were totally outplayed. We had six shots at the end of two periods. We're coming off an incredible road trip. The tank is empty. There's nothing to talk about.''
Murray also seemed upset with STAPLES Center fans, many of them booed after the second period, when the Kings faced a 2-0 deficit and a 30-6 shot deficit.
``You know what the most disappointing, frustrating thing was?'' Murray said. ``At the end of the second period, we were booed off the ice by our fans. That is the most embarrassing thing I have ever been through. That's the worst I've ever been through, in all the years I've been coaching. I've been behind the bench almost 3,000 hockey games in the NHL, and booed off the ice by your own fans at the end of the second period, here after this road trip, going 4-0 in hard places, very disappointing.''
The Kings can only hope they didn't suffer a bigger loss. Kyle Clifford did not return to the game after his first-period fight with Ryan Reaves. Clifford fell to the ice after a punch to the head and was officially described as having an upper-body injury. The NHL recently announced enhanced in-game measures to treat players with concussion symptoms.
``I haven't heard too much. Upper-body injury. Nothing else,'' Murray said. ``That was at the end of the first period, and I have no update.''
St. Louis completed a four-game season-series sweep of the Kings, who missed a golden opportunity to further secure a playoff position against the Western Conference's 12th-place team. Instead, the Blues looked like the team headed to the postseason.
The Kings fell only one spot in the standings, to fifth place, but with games against playoff contenders Anaheim, Calgary and San Jose coming up, the Kings missed a chance to give themselves a cushion and missed a chance to continue their road momentum.
During the previous 10 days, the Kings went on the road and swept Detroit, Columbus, Dallas and Nashville, all teams that -- at least in the standings -- are better than St. Louis.
The first game back home, after a long road trip, is often called a ``trap game'' -- meaning that the home team can fall into a trap -- and the Kings certainly did fall.
``First of all, I'm not making excuses for our play,'' Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi said. ``But you look at it, and we're coming off a big road trip, a lot of energy, a lot of excitement. We come back, and we're playing a team that's technically still alive (in the playoff race) but maybe on their last gasp of air, and we just came out flat. Right from the get-go, every single guy.
``The only guy who probably was ready to go was Quickie [Jonathan Quick]. I thought he was tremendous in the first two-and-a-half periods. A couple tough ones, lucky bounces, and he was probably exhausted at that point. A trap game? Maybe. Sometimes you're going to have to fight through those.''
The Kings were outshot 9-1 in the first 14 minutes, gave up a goal shortly after and had almost zero offensive-zone possession time in the first period. Their pace picked up late in the second, but that only led to D'Agostini's second goal, late in the period.
The Kings outshot the Blues 11-9 in the third period, but the game was lost early, and Quick had to be exhausted in the third period after all his early work.
The Blues outshot the Kings 9-1 over the game's first 13-plus minutes, and got rewarded with the game's first goal. Adam Cracknell took the puck wide and shot from the right circle. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made the save, but kicked the rebound right into the slot, where D'Agostini picked it up and fired in a wrist shot to give St. Louis a 1-0 lead with 3:30 remaining in the first period.
D'Agostini's second goal gave the Blues a 2-0 lead with seven seconds remaining in the second period. D'Agostini carried the puck low and shot from near the goal line, beating Quick short-side.
Things didn't get any better for the Kings early in the third period, as the Blues took a 3-0 lead at the 5:09 mark. Pietrangelo found a bit of open ice in the neutral zone and rifled a slap shot into the Kings' net for an unassisted goal.
The Blues extended their lead to four goals with 7:21 remaining in the third period. TJ Oshie took a short pass from teammate Chris Porter in the Kings' zone and beat Quick with a backhand shot from the middle of the left faceoff circle to give St. Louis a 4-0 lead.
``Well, it’s done, so we put it behind us,'' Kings winger Ryan Smyth said. ``We have 11 games left, and we are in control of our destiny. … There are no easy games; we can’t take any nights off. It’s very frustrating, and if you’re not frustrated in this room then you shouldn’t be in it. It’s, for sure, a disappointing loss, especially the way we played. But it doesn’t matter if you lose 2-1 or 4-0, it’s a loss and it’s behind us now.''