Perhaps a 3:30 a.m. morning skate is in order next time?
The Kings once again looked far from sharp in a Saturday afternoon game and, given their effort, probably did well to come away with one point in a 5-4 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues before 17,519 at STAPLES Center.
Only Alexander Frolov’s goal, with 33.8 seconds remaining in regulation, prevented the Kings from falling to 0-3-0 in 1 p.m. start this season, but the Blues got the extra point but converting twice in the shootout while the Kings went 0-for-2.
The Kings earned at least one point for a fourth consecutive game, but weren’t pleased with an effort that was sloppy overall, nor were they pleased with losing a third-period lead – they were up 3-2 – something that seems to be a trend.
Paul Kariya scored twice to put the Blues up 4-3, and only Frolov’s alert play in front of the St. Louis net, after a blocked shot, allowed the game to go to overtime.
``I don't think we played very well,’’ Kings captain Dustin Brown said. ``I shouldn't say that. I guess we had some spurts, but it wasn't consistent enough tonight. We battled back and got a point, but that other point could be a huge difference-maker, especially against a team like that, that we're battling with (for playoff position).’’
The Kings have issues at both ends of the ice. Secondary scoring, an issue earlier in the season, has been strong of late, and on Saturday the Kings got goals from Brad Richardson (his third in three games), Scott Parse and Jarret Stoll.
Two high-profile players, however, continued their high-profile struggles. Anze Kopitar has gone 12 consecutive games without a goal and Brown has gone 13 games. Kopitar had an outstanding scoring chance in overtime but lost control of the puck.
After the game, coach Terry Murray was asked when he would start to become concerned about a lack of production from Brown and Kopitar.
``I'm concerned right now. I'm concerned,’’ Murray said. ``When you go through a dozen games and you haven't scored a goal, and you're getting the amount of minutes, special situations that you're getting, and being quality players, that's a concern. Kopi ends up, in overtime, with the puck on his stick on a breakaway, and he loses it. That's not like him.
``So I've got to sit down and have an opportunity to talk to him, just about how things are in his own mind. But yeah, I'm concerned. We've done a pretty good job here as a team. Simmer and Parse and Richardson, they've stepped up and they're doing their part. We've got to get our top guys back on top again.''
That’s one problem. Another is that the Kings are too often putting themselves in a position in which they need to score four or five goals in order to win. The Kings have allowed at least three regulation goals in seven of their last nine games.
The numbers behind those numbers are also troubling. The Kings outshot the Blues 40-31, and reached the 40-shot plateau for the second time in three games, but also have allowed at least 30 goals in five consecutive games.
The Kings are still ranked second in the league in average shots against (27.0), but that number is creeping higher. The Kings’ success early this season, and last season, was built upon limiting opponents’ shots on goal, but that has been a problem of late.
``One of the things that we're trying to harp on is, I really believe that we have one of the better group of forwards, as far as cycling and playing down in their end,’’ Kings defenseman Sean O’Donnell said. ``When we're playing our game, we can tire a lot of teams out defensively. I think what that does is, even though it might not look the prettiest, and guys might get frustrated because they're not getting the quality chances all at once, and not getting the nice 2-on-1s or 3-on-2s, you're also eliminating the other team from being in your end. You're tiring them down.
``It's not always a glamorous way to play, but it's effective. It's almost like a running game in football. You pound the team and you pound the team and you pound the team, and then the other plays will open up. But I think we still need to establish that identity, that running game, whatever you want to call it, that teams know.
``There have been times -- against Chicago and some of the better teams in the league -- when we've had it down low and we've dominated teams for periods at a time. Then, for whatever reason, we have success and then we think, `OK, this is easy,' and we change it up.’’
Both teams came into the game with good results of late. The Kings entered with a three-game winning streak, while the Blues entered with a 5-2-1 record in their previous eight games, including a comeback victory over San Jose on Thursday.
The Kings took a first-period lead with an unlikely goal.
With Raitis Ivanans in the penalty box for an offensive-zone holding penalty, the suddenly on-fire Richardson scored on a wrist shot from the left circle with 5:24 left in the first period. Richardson, who didn't score in his first 57 games with the Kings, now has goals in three consecutive games.
After the Kings couldn't score on the power play to start the second period, the Blues tied the game 3:32 into the period. David Perron pulled up on the right side of the Kings' zone and tossed the puck toward the net. Keith Tkachuk, tied up with Jack Johnson in front of the net, managed to deflect the puck past goalie Jonathan Quick (27 saves).
The Kings killed two second-period penalties, but the Blues took the lead with an even-strength goal with 8:06 left in the second period. Jay McClement had the puck in the corner and pushed it behind the net to B.J. Crombeen, who centered to Brad Boyes. Boyes, in the slot, beat Quick with a wrist shot.
The Kings tied the game exactly one minute later. Michal Handzus came up with the puck in the corner and centered it toward Parse. Parse couldn't get a clean shot, but whacked at the puck and his high shot deflected up and over Blues goalie Chris Mason.
The teams traded goals in the middle of the third period.
The Kings took a brief 3-2 lead when Parse, from the left boards, centered a pass to Stoll in the high slot. Stoll's wrist shot beat Mason.
Then, just 27 seconds later, a puck trickled through traffic and found the stick of Kariya. Quick couldn't get over in time to cover the shot, partly because Johnson put an accidental block on him, and Kariya scored on a wrist shot.
The Blues took a 4-3 lead with 2:20 remaining, on the power play. Kariya took a slap shot from the right point, with David Backes running traffic in front, and the high shot cleanly beat Quick.
``(Backes is) a big body and he was doing a good job with that all night, getting in front,’’ Quick said. ``He's a big body, tough to move, and it paid off there with the fourth goal.’’
Frolov scored with 33.8 seconds remaining, and the Kings' net empty, to tie the game. Frolov picked up the rebound after Drew Doughty's shot was blocked, spun, shot from the slot and scored.
LAKings.com's NOTES Wayne Simmonds extended his career high point streak to six games (4-4=8)...Brad Richardson now has a career-high three-game goal streak (3-1=4)...Scott Parse has points five of the last six games (2-4=6) ...Jarret Stoll has assists/points in three straight games (1-3=4) ...The Kings are 3-0-1 in their last four games (4-1-1 in their last six) ...The Kings 37 points is tied for the sixth best 30-game start in franchise history (16-9-5 in 1990-91) ...Best 30-game start since 1999-00 (16-7-6-1 = 39 points) ...The Kings have hit the 40-shot mark in two of their last three games (season high 42 Tuesday in Anaheim)...Celebs in the Stands, Tom Hanks was "scene" in the crowd at Saturday's game. Click here to see the Kings' famous fans.