After only eight minutes, it seemed evident to everyone, particularly the man standing behind the Kings' bench.
The Kings were, to varying degrees, off in just about every aspect of the game -- passing, hitting, shooting -- in the opening minutes Saturday afternoon, and coach Terry Murray wasted no time in calling a timeout after approximately eight minutes.
Murray didn't get much of a response, though, as the Kings followed up their dominating effort two days earlier with a 60-minute clunker, as they fell to the Nashville Predators 3-1 before 15,237 at Staples Center.
The Kings, trailing 1-0 after the second period, seemed positioned for another third-period comeback, but Nashville's Cody Franson scored less than five minutes into the third period.
Dustin Brown's tip-in goal at the 8:25 mark pulled the Kings within 2-1 and stirred hopes of a comeback, but Joel Ward scored 1 minute, 20 seconds later to deflate the Kings and give Nashville its fifth consecutive victory over the Kings.
The Kings had been 6-0-2 in their previous eight games.
``We have a pretty good team in here,'' Brown said, ``but if we're not going to work, we're not going to be better than any team in this league. It's just about work, and we didn't have enough guys -- or not very many guys at all -- working consistently tonight, and that showed.
``We didn't have a lot of energy and we didn't make a lot of plays. We have a lot of skill in this room, but skill isn't going to win you games.''
Those looking for excuses could point to a couple things, one being a Kings ``hangover effect'' after a huge victory over Pittsburgh two nights earlier, and the second being the 1 p.m. start that can easily leave the home team listless.
Brown really wasn't having any of it.
``I think those are just all excuses,'' Brown said. ``I think it's really just taking accountability, personally, individually and preparing yourself to play. That’s something that everyone kind of has to look at themselves in the mirror tonight to realize and learn from.
``I think, collectively, as a team when you prepare yourself right collectively as a team it becomes a lot easier for everyone in here. Pittsburgh, early start, those are all just excuses.''
The Kings, who went 0-3-1 against the Predators last season, including 0-2 at Staples Center, seemed to be in for a long afternoon from the first faceoff. Passes weren't sharp and the Predators were stronger on the puck in the first half of the period, which is what led Murray to call a timeout at around the eight-minute mark.
``I was prepared to do what I did,'' Murray said. ``I was looking for it, and if it wasn't there I was going to call a timeout. I've been around enough to know that it happens after a couple emotional games. We had the comeback in Phoenix and the win against Pittsburgh. ... The challenge here has to come from within the locker room.''
Neither team showed much in a scoreless first period, but the Kings didn't show much bounce in the second either. They blew a great chance early, as they had a 5-on-3 power play for the first 54 seconds of the second period but didn't score.
``A real big turning point, I thought,'' Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. ``To get through that unscathed really gave us a lot of energy and that was huge.''
Nashville broke the scoreless tie with 3:28 left in the second period, with the Kings' Raitis Ivanans in the penalty box for hooking.
Franson shot wide, and the rebound came back hard off the boards behind the net. Francis Bouillon pounced on the rebound from the left side of the net and slapped it in as Kings goalie Jonathan Quick tried to make the sprawling save.
The Predators extended their lead to two goals 4:52 into the third period, when Franson scored on a long-range slap shot through traffic. Franson shot from just inside the blue line, on the right side of the zone.
The Kings kept the pressure on early in the third period, and got rewarded, as they scored a power-play goal at the 8:25 mark. Anze Kopitar won the faceoff and Jarret Stoll took the point shot, which Brown deflected past Dan Ellis for the goal.
Kopitar got an assist, to extend his league-high point total to 27, but his line was kept off the scoreboard in 5-on-5 situations and Kopitar didn't record a shot on goal until late in the third period. He recorded two shots and three missed shots.
``We had our spurts,'' Murray said, ``then we sputtered a little, then we had our spurts and then we were flat. You can't play this game on skill alone. Emotionally, we didn't have it here tonight.''
Nashville took back the momentum just 1:20 after the Kings scored. The Kings attempted, in vain, to clear a puck after a scramble in front of the crease, and Joel Ward poked it past Quick from the right side of the net, 9:45 into the third period.
``They beat us, from the dots to the boards, in every area of the ice,'' Murray said. ``They pulled the puck off the boards in our zone, making plays, took it to the net in the net. In the offensive zone, we were not able to get the puck stopped up.
``Our forecheck was inconsistent, and we were not able to pull pucks off the boards and make plays. I'll tell you what, Nashville came in with an attitude and a game plan that was based on hard work and grit.''
Quick stopped 22 of 25 shots while Ellis stopped 27 of 28.
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