LOS ANGELES – Pittsburgh’s early offensive push was too much for the Kings to overcome tonight, falling 4-1 to the Penguins in their return to STAPLES Center.
The Penguins came to town with the league’s fourth-best offense, averaging well over three goals per game. The Kings entered tonight with the best defense in the NHL, but they couldn’t put a damper on Pittsburgh’s firepower.
Pittsburgh, tonight, recorded their first-ever regulation victory as a franchise at STAPLES Center.
Evgeni Malkin put Pittsburgh on the board just :57 seconds into play, tucking home a loose puck past Jonathan Quick as he stood undetected on the back-door.
The Kings were able to match Malkin’s early tally, as Anze Kopitar lasered home a slap shot past Pittsburgh’s Jeff Zatkoff with 10:28 left to play in the first period. It was Kopitar’s 16th goal of the season, and the first power play goal for the Kings in their last 19 man-advantage opportunities.
The Kings have scored a combined three goals in their past five games. Anze Kopitar has each and every one of them.
Just :33 seconds after Kopitar knotted the score, two Kings were called for two separate minor penalties during the same play, giving the Penguins a 5-on-3 power play.
And they executed.
Chris Kunitz beat Jonathan Quick :45 seconds into their two-man advantage to give the Penguins a 2-1 lead, then Jussi Jokinen added another :57 seconds later on their 5-on-4 advantage to give Pittsburgh a commanding 3-1 lead just 11:47 into the game.
Darryl Sutter gave Jonathan Quick the hook after 20 minutes, after he surrendered three goals on seven shots.
Martin Jones played solid in relief of Quick, allowing one goal on 15 shots, when Tanner Glass beat him up-high with a back-hand shot midway through the second period to give the Penguins a 4-1 lead, the night’s eventual final score.
The Kings have now dropped to 30-20-6, which is good for 66 points, sitting them at sixth-place in the Western Conference standings.
Pennsylvania’s other team, the Philadelphia Flyers, will be at STAPLES Center Saturday for a matinee affair. You can catch KINGS LIVE at 12:30 PT, followed with Bob and Jim on the live play-by-play call while the sun’s still out at 1:00 PT.