The Kings gave their fans a good show in the regular-season home finale and they relived a bit of their ``miraculous’’ past, but they didn’t get what they most wanted or needed.
For the fourth consecutive game, the Kings were left with an odd feeling, a hybrid of disappointment and satisfaction. On Saturday, they rallied from a three-goal third-period deficit but lost to Edmonton 4-3 in a shootout before a sellout crowd at STAPLES Center.
``It doesn't really matter whether we come back or not, at the end of the day,’’ Kings defenseman Sean O’Donnell said. ``This is a game where we needed two points. These are important games right now. Not to get two points tonight was a real disappointment.’’
The Kings close out the regular season Sunday afternoon in Colorado, and their initial playoff destination won’t be known until Sunday’s Western Conference games are done.
This much is known, though. The Kings would like to go into the playoffs with a win.
So important is building momentum that coach Terry Murray said, after Saturday’s game, that he is considering starting Jonathan Quick in goal, in a back-to-back situation, after Quick set a franchise record with his 72nd appearance of the season on Saturday.
Once again, the Kings didn’t seem to know exactly what to make on the result.
Last Saturday, the Kings gave up a late third-period goal and lost to Anaheim in a shootout. Two days later, they rallied from a three-goal deficit to beat the Ducks in a shootout. On Thursday, the Kings blew a 2-0 lead and lost to Phoenix in a shootout.
In each game, as in Saturday’s, there were positives and negatives, but everyone seems to acknowledge that up-and-down play doesn’t lead to long-term success in the playoffs.
``We need to realize that you can't just turn it on, come Wednesday or Thursday of next week,’’ O’Donnell said. ``We did some good things tonight. Fifty-two to 14, or whatever the shots were, you don't want to break it down too much. We did some really good things. We're still undisciplined and we're still losing some checks, but the main thing that I see is the penalties. Come the playoffs, you can't be taking five, six, seven penalties a game. It's got to be three, or maybe four at the most.
``That's one thing we need to work on a little bit. Other than that, we had some shots. We maybe didn't get the traffic we wanted, or the killer instinct on the power play, but it's hard to poke too many holes on a shot total like that. We still need to find a way to get points.’’
The Kings dominated the stat sheet Saturday, as they outshot the Oilers 55-16 and came within four of tying the franchise record for shots on goal in one game. Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk finished with 52 saves.
The Kings found themselves trailing 3-0 when Tom Gilbert scored a shorthanded goal 5:24 into the third period. That’s when a little bit of ``miracle’’ came into play.
Exactly 28 years to the day that Daryl Evans scored an overtime goal, and the Kings rallied to beat the Oilers 6-5 in the ``Miracle on Manchester’’ playoff game, the Kings staged another rally against the Oilers, although on a much smaller stage.
The ``Miracle’’ comparisons end there, though, as the Kings failed to score in overtime and scored on only 1 of 3 shootout attempts while the Oilers scored twice.
With his 72nd appearance of the season, Quick set a new franchise record, breaking the mark set by Felix Potvin, who appeared in 71 games in the 2001-02 season.
Quick, though, is now winless in his last eight starts – he has been pulled from two of them – and has not recorded a victory since March 22 against Colorado. Quick allowed three goals on 16 shots against the Oilers and remains stuck on 39 wins.
``It doesn't bother you,’’ Quick said of his personal winless streak. ``There's no reason it should. As a team, and me personally, we've won plenty of games and we're going to win more, so it doesn't effect you at all.’’
Murray wouldn’t rule out, though, the possibility of starting Quick on Sunday against the Avalanche, to give his goalie a chance to get a winning feeling before the playoffs.
``It does mean something, so that's something I need to think about,’’ Murray said. ``The 40 (wins) number, it doesn't have meaning to me and I hope (it doesn't) to him. It's important that we get a win under our belt, going in the right way.’’
The Kings didn't give Quick any offensive support until the third period, although they certainly had enough chances.
The Kings had the game's first excellent scoring chance, while they were killing a penalty less than eight minutes into the first period. Fredrik Modin, on a breakaway, got held up by Edmonton's Ryan Whitney, but on the penalty shot, Dubnyk made a glove save on Modin's shot.
Edmonton struck first, with 5:23 remaining in the first period. Gilbert's long outlet pass found the stick of Mike Comrie, who split Handzus and Randy Jones and went in alone on net. Comrie directed the puck around Quick for a 1-0 lead.
The Kings had a goal waved off with 3:25 remaining, when it was ruled that Scott Parse knocked the puck into the net with his knee from close range.
The Oilers took a 2-0 lead with a power-play goal 3:13 into the second period. The Oilers started a quick rush and got a 2-on-1 break with only Rob Scuderi back. Comrie's attempt to pass across the crease hit Scuderi's skate and went into the net, giving Comrie his second goal of the game.
Gilbert made it 3-0 Oilers, 5:24 into the third period, with a shorthanded goal, as the Oilers worked the puck down low and Gilbert beat Quick with a wrist shot under Quick's glove.
``We gave them one quality chance in the first period and they scored on it,’’ Brown said. ``They didn't have anything other than that. Then we had one lapse on our PK and they had a 3-on-2 and scored. That's good execution. I didn't feel like we gave them a lot. They worked for everything they got. They got two opportunities, and that's good execution by them.
``I'll take that. If they're going to be perfect, if they're going to get three opportunities and score three goals, that's kind of how it happens. They got two chances in two periods and scored on both of them.’’
The Kings got on the board with a power-play goal 6:39 into the third period. Anze Kopitar shot from the half-boards, and Ryan Smyth got a piece of the rebound in front before Brown knocked it in to reduce Edmonton's lead to 3-1.
The Kings pulled within one goal on Stoll's goal with 7:53 remaining. Stoll took a pass from Brown and used a burst of speed to get to the net and beat Dubnyk with a wrist shot to the short side.
The Kings completed their comeback with 2:34 remaining in regulation. Wayne Simmonds caused a turnover with a hit along the boards in the Edmonton zone, and Handzus picked up the puck in front and beat Dubnyk to tie the game 3-3.
The Kings trail Detroit by one point for the 5th seed in the Western Conference (The Red Wings play at Chicago tomorrow)...The Kings lead Nashville by one point for the 6th seed in the Western Conference (The Predators host St. Louis this afternoon) ... The Kings 55 shots today was a season high. The team record is 59 shots (Dec. 26, 1992 vs. San Jose) ... Ryan Smyth extended his assist streak to five games (6a). The last King to have a five-game assist streak was Patrick O’Sullivan (Dec. 6 to Dec. 15, 2008) ... Michal Handzus scored his 20th goal today. The last time he had 20 goals was 2003-04 with Philadelphia ... Terry Murray coached his 900th all-time regular season game (439-341-120) ... Jonathan Quick set a Kings single-season record for most appearances in one season (72). Felix Potvin had 71 in 2001-02 ... Today was the 28th anniversary of the “Miracle on Manchester” Game, in which the Kings overcame a 5-0 third-period deficit to beat the Oilers in overtime (Game 3 of the 1982 Division Semifinals) ... The Kings finished their home schedule 22-13-6 ... The four shootouts in a row is a franchise record ... The last five games vs. Oilers at STAPLES Center have gone to a shootout (EDM has won all five).
1 - 0 EDM
2 - 0 EDM
3 - 0 EDM
3 - 1 EDM